Story Degrees

Sonoma State University Wine Business MBA: A Rarity

Angie Marcos

The MBA and EMBA in Wine Business programs in Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics are the only ones of their kind. Recent alumni share how they degrees have advanced their careers in one of California’s most profitable markets.

​Sonoma State University's specialized MBA, undergraduate and certificate programs offer courses with a focus on the ever-changing wine industry. Photo courtesy of Sonoma State


Nestled in the heart of California Wine Country is a unique educational opportunity for aspiring wine industry entrepreneurs: an MBA in Wine Business.

The only wine business MBA in the United States, Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute  which is an education and research institute of the School of Business and Economics — offers a number of specialized MBA programs as well as a concentration in wine business studies for undergraduates and certificate programs, all readying students for the adventure (and perils, sometimes) of working in one of California's most profitable industries.  

Courses focus on the business of the wine industry and its ever-changing needs, including business intelligence, finance, cost accounting and human resources management.

The Northern California campus is a fitting location for the program, as Sonoma County is home to nearly 60,000 acres of vineyards and more than 425 wineries. California accounts for 85 percent of total U.S. wine production.

We asked recent alumni how they've benefited from this one-of-a-kind program:


 Heather Rehnberg

Degree: Executive MBA ,Wine Business ('17)

Title: Director of marketing, Rombauer Vineyards

  • "What drew me to the program was the opportunity to develop leadership skills and business acumen, while connecting with industry professionals through their passion for wine."
  • "This degree has opened doors for me earlier in my career than I ever imagined. … The greatest value of the program was the network I established. I am in my current role because of the education I received and the network I built during those 17 months."
  • "Distribution Strategy was one of my favorite courses because it made me more comfortable with industry pricing models."


Jorge Morellon

Degree: Executive MBA, Wine Business ('16)

Title: Vice president of commercial operations, Haas Brothers

  • "This program has helped me learn how to collaborate to meet goals, build teams, be a better communicator, and take my financial analysis skills to a higher level."
  • "A keystone element was the importance of local and global sustainability in the wine and spirits industry … Being sensitive to the environment, being responsive to the needs and interests of the society and making all these sustainable policies economically efficient was an eye-opener for me.  After I graduated, my employer promoted me."


Kate Bernal-Hafner

Degree: Executive MBA, Wine Business ('17)

Title: Sales/marketing/business team of her family's winery, Hafner Vineyard

  • "This program was completely targeted to my career path. What I learned on Friday and Saturday, I could apply to work on Monday."
  • "I cannot stress how valuable the emotional intelligence work is and how the program puts a wonderful emphasis on it — it is truly life-changing. It's preparing me for one day managing a winery … with the confidence and emotional understanding to better serve and lead a company."
  • "Whether you are a supplier, in the vineyard, cellar, sales side or distribution — everyone has something to learn and each person also brings something to the table that he/she can share and teach the cohort. The network that you create while in school is invaluable."
Interested in Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute? Applications are currently being accepted for its Hybrid Executive MBA in Wine Business and Online Certificate in Wine Business Management