SSU unveils new Wine Spectator Learning Center

Politicians, community members, faculty and students came together to celebrate the university's new hub for the Wine Business Institute
June 5, 2018

From left: Rep. Mike Thompson, SSU Provost Lisa Vollendorf, Wine Spectator’s Marvin R. Shanken, SSU President Judy Sakaki, Dean Karen Thompson, Korbel's Gary Heck, WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson and Logan Pitts. // Photo by Wine Spectator

Wine Business Institute alumni at opening of Wine Spectator Learning Center

Wine Business Institute alumni at opening of Wine Spectator Learning Center

Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken

Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken

Rep. Mike Thompson hands President Judy K. Sakaki a copy of a Congressional Resolution honoring Sonoma State for the opening of the WSLC.

Rep. Mike Thompson hands President Judy K. Sakaki a copy of a Congressional Resolution honoring Sonoma State for the opening of the WSLC.

Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson

Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson

President Judy K. Sakaki with Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars

President Judy K. Sakaki with Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars

Crowd looks on during ribbon-cutting of WSLC on May 29.

Crowd looks on during ribbon-cutting of WSLC on May 29.

Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, give each other a fist bump as Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, looks on.

Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, give each other a fist bump as Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, looks on.

From left, SSU President Judy K. Sakaki, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson and other members of the Wine Business Institute board and key donors pose for a photo outside the new Wine Spectator Learning Center on May 29

From left, SSU President Judy K. Sakaki, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson and other members of the Wine Business Institute board and key donors pose for a photo outside the new Wine Spectator Learning Center on May 29

Dalia Ceja and Liz Thach

Dalia Ceja and Liz Thach

From left, Gerret Copeland and Tatiana Copeland, proprietor and president of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa, and other audience members look on during the opening ceremonies at the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University on May 29.

From left, Gerret Copeland and Tatiana Copeland, proprietor and president of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa, and other audience members look on during the opening ceremonies at the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University on May 29.

Wine Spectator Learning Center ribbon cutting
Wine Business Institute alumni at opening of Wine Spectator Learning Center
Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken
Rep. Mike Thompson hands President Judy K. Sakaki a copy of a Congressional Resolution honoring Sonoma State for the opening of the WSLC.
Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson
President Judy K. Sakaki with Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars
Crowd looks on during ribbon-cutting of WSLC on May 29.
Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, give each other a fist bump as Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, looks on.
From left, SSU President Judy K. Sakaki, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, WBI Executive Director Ray Johnson and other members of the Wine Business Institute board and key donors pose for a photo outside the new Wine Spectator Learning Center on May 29
Dalia Ceja and Liz Thach
From left, Gerret Copeland and Tatiana Copeland, proprietor and president of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa, and other audience members look on during the opening ceremonies at the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University on May 29.

(Rohnert Park) With nearly 700 students, alumni, faculty and leaders of the North Coast wine industry in attendance, Sonoma State University celebrated the grand opening of the Wine Spectator Learning Center on campus on May 29. The $11 million, 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will serve as the new headquarters for the University's Wine Business Institute and is designed to be an industry hub for the next generation of global wine industry leaders. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, representatives of the California State University Chancellor’s Office, SSU Provost Lisa Vollendorf, Dr. Karen Thompson, interim dean of the School of Business and Economics joined SSU President Judy K. Sakaki during the opening ceremonies.

Also assisting in cutting the ribbon were Gary Heck, president and owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, both of whom played key roles in the development of the Learning Center.

“Our entire campus community and all of our students will benefit from having the Wine Spectator Learning Center,” said President Sakaki after welcoming all of those in attendance. “Knowledge will be transmitted here.  New knowledge will be created here. Partnerships will be formed here.  Community members will gather here.  And, lives will be enriched and changed here.”

Dozens of donors, community members and Wine Business Institute faculty, staff and board members also were in attendance, celebrating the many contributions that made the university’s newest Learning Center possible. The building coincides with SSU’s recently implemented strategic plan, which emphasizes student success, community engagement and leadership development.

The success and leadership of Sonoma State’s Wine Business program, including global interest in potential partnerships from countries such as France, Australia and Korea, were the primary reasons behind the university's decision to transform the former student union into the Learning Center. Programs such as the wine entrepreneurship laboratory and the recently created Wine Industry Scholars Program offering scholarships to children of the local wine industry, many of whom are first generation college students, also will be housed in the new building.