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Details On Sonoma State’s $3 Million Wine Spectator Donation



image007Rohnert Park, CA/New York, NY (July 7, 2014)—Sonoma State University (SSU) President Ruben Armiñana announced that Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, is making a $3 million gift to the University through the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The gift will support the construction of the new home for SSU’s Wine Business Institute, which will be named the Wine Spectator Learning Center.

“Sonoma State University has taken a leadership position in wine business education, a specialized but important field that deserves support,” said Shanken.  “The potential benefits to the wine industry are enormous. We are pleased to be able to help the University and their students achieve their goals.”

Wine Spectator is the premier media brand in education for the wine industry and Sonoma State University is a global leader in wine business education and research. This is a great pairing of two world class education partners,” said Armiñana.

Upon completion, the 15,000 square foot building will be organized around three focal areas: an education core with three classrooms; a student commons with areas for collaboration and student-run businesses; and an industry center with space for professional and academic faculty and program leadership.

“Students, faculty, industry professionals and alumni will jointly collaborate in programs and on projects that will support the short and long term success of the wine industry,” said Dr. William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics, which includes the Wine Business Institute.  “As the new home to Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute, the Wine Spectator Learning Center will create a sense of place for all of our stakeholders.”image006

Located in the heart of Sonoma County, SSU’s Wine Business Institute was founded in 1996, the first academic program in the United States to offer degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry.  Programs like the Executive MBA in Wine Business and online Certificate in Wine Business Management prepare students and industry professionals on topics such as accounting and finance, wine sales and marketing.

Last year over 600 people from around the country studied at Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute and professionals from a dozen countries have participated in its online programs. The Wine Spectator Learning Center will provide the physical and technical infrastructure to support innovative and relevant curricula to expand the reach of such programs and develop wine industry leadership around the world.

image008Ray Johnson, director of the Institute, expressed his appreciation not only for the generous gift, but also for the opportunity to partner with Shanken. “His personal involvement is helping to shape not merely the design of the building, but, more importantly, the nature and impact of the learning experience for our students.”

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in late 2015 and end mid-2016. Discussions are also underway on programming and educational resources that will leverage the shared expertise of Sonoma State University and M. Shanken Communications.


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About Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute:

Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute is located in the heart of California wine country and was created through a public-private partnership between the University and the wine industry. It offers a B.S. with a concentration in wine business strategies (since 1998), an MBA with an emphasis in wine business (since 2008), and an executive MBA in wine business (since 2012).  Its faculty members are published experts, active researchers, and requested presenters on pressing industry topics locally and around the world. The Wine Business Institute operates within Sonoma State’s School of Business and Economics, a fully accredited AACSB institution. Learn more at

About Wine Spectator:

Published 15 times per year, Wine Spectator offers an exciting, insider’s view of the good life, including fine dining, wine travel, and entertainment. With 3.1 million readers (MRI), Wine Spectator reaches business leaders, trendsetters, epicureans and connoisseurs. Its readership also includes influential members of the $44 billion-dollar wine trade – the key buyers and sellers in the wine industry. The magazine also runs the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, which has raised more than $20 million to support wine and food education and scholarship programs over the last 30 years.  Foundation beneficiaries have included students at the University of California, Davis, Department of Viticulture & Ecology; the Culinary Institute of America; Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration; and Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Marvin R. Shanken is the founder and chairman of parent company M. Shanken Communications, Inc. whose roster of lifestyle publications also includes Cigar Aficionado, Whisky Advocate, and industry journals Impact, Food Arts, Market Watch, and the Shanken News Daily.