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Sonoma State Announces New Home for Wine Business Institute

Submitted By: School of Business and Economics Marketing Team at Sonoma State University, January 07, 2014
January 7, 2014

Sonoma State University Announces New Home for its
Wine Business Institute and Seed Gift from Korbel’s Gary Heck

Rohnert Park, CA: Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana announced that its Wine Business Institute will have a new permanent home on campus in the former University Commons building, which was recently vacated with the opening of SSU’s new Student Center. Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel, also announced a personal gift of $1 million on behalf of Korbel to seed the renovation of the building to suit the needs of a 21st century learning center.

"The wine industry needs leaders with solid business skills and a deep knowledge of the industry if we are all to be successful. The Wine Business Institute has delivered on this for more than 15 years and this building is the next step. It will provide a visible home that will be a place of learning and gathering for everyone: students, faculty, industry professionals, and not just from our own area but from around the world," said Heck.

"Gary Heck and Korbel have been supportive of the University for a very long time. I am pleased that Gary is joining with us to help create this new home for the Wine Business Institute. The plans and goals of the Institute serve not only Sonoma State’s educational mission but that of the California State University," said Armiñana.

Upon completion, the 14,580 ft² 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. The latter space will be named the Korbel Industry Center, in recognition of Heck’s generous support of wine business education at Sonoma State.

"Our alumni are already working throughout the wine industry and increasingly occupying positions of leadership in an industry that has more than a $125 billion economic impact on the U.S. economy. To educate them, at all stages of their career, and to have a place where people can gather to learn from each other, to share best practices in a field that is rooted in agriculture and a deep sense of place is an honor," explained William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics, which is the academic home of the Wine Business Institute.

Renderings for the building and full architectural plans are in development. Renovation is expected to begin and end in 2015.

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For more information, contact:
Annemarie Brown, SSU School of Business & Economics, 707-664-2221,
Susan Kashack, SSU Chief Information Officer, 707-664-2122
Margie Healy, Korbel, 707-824-7715,

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. Founded in 1995, it is the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. These include 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). In addition to its academic programs, the Wine Business Institute offers an array of professional seminars and certificates for the industry on relevant topics like accounting and finance, and wine sales and marketing, including an online certificate in wine business management that has reached professionals in a dozen countries since its launch in 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 Gary Heck:
Gary Heck, the owner of Korbel, has served as its president since 1982 and became Chairman of the Board in 1984. In 1965 he began his full-time career at Korbel Champagne Cellars occupying many positions spanning all areas of winery operations from assistant office manager to traffic manager and sales representative to vice president. Under Heck’s leadership, Korbel’s sales have grown from 150,000 cases annually to 1.3 million, continuing a 132 year tradition of family business, wine-making and industry innovation. Heck serves as the chair of Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute Board and ex-officio member of the board of directors for the Wine Institute, is a member of Les Amis du Vin and was named a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine.