Wine business receives donation from local winery

California is known for producing some of the best wines in the United States. Sonoma State University’s wine business program has had a large influence on the surrounding wine country in  the nearly 20 years it has been at the university. Recently, a $300,000 donation from Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga will go towards the Wine Spectator Learning Center, set to open in 2016.

The wine business program received an initial $3 million donation last year from Wine Spectator Magazine which funded the Wine Business Institute, which will take place of the former University Commons. This additional $300,000 donation from winery will be used directly for the Peter Michael Executive Classroom in the new learning center.

The learning center is estimated to cost over $9 million dollars to finish, and multiple sponsors have already donated most of the budget. The largest contributor besides the initial $3 million from Wine Spectator Magazine is now the Peter Michael Winery, whose name will forever be a part of Sonoma State and will be seen by the hundreds of students in the school.

Said to be completed in 2016, the new learning center will house most of the wine business program, which now resides in Salazar Hall. The Wine Business Masters program is the only one of its kind in the world, making this institute unique to Sonoma State. With the expansion of the program, it is clear there will be room for more students and a more defined place where the future of the wine industry will come to study.

“I’m looking forward to the new building that’s being constructed but unfortunately I won’t have the opportunity to use it,” said Taylor Hood, now working at Stryker Sonoma Winery and finishing up his last semester in the program. “I think a few years down the road after it has been constructed it will be the best time for learning.”

Wood also hopes to see improvement in the legal side of wine business education, but thanks the program for many aspects of his career.

“My current job was mentioned to me through networking and student alumni and I had the great opportunity to join such a great team,” said Hood. “By doing extra curricular activity and going abroad as well as participating in blind tastings I have learned so many sides.”

“[The Wine Spectator Learning Center] will provide a home for all of our programs and a place for the wine industry to connect with our students,” said Ray Johnson, director of the Wine Business Institute.

When asked about the growth of the institute, Johnson said, “The number of students across all of our programs continues to grow; it’s an exciting time”.