Grand Opening of Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University May 29

Public Celebration Features Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New International Wine Business Education and Research Hub
April 30, 2018
Wine Spectator Learning Center Concept art

Wine Spectator Learning Center concept art // Art by TLCD Architecture

The Grand Opening event and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University will take place on May 29 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. on campus. The event, which is expected to draw over 300 people, celebrates the new headquarters of the Wine Business Institute (WBI), a unique public-private partnership between the School of Business and Economics at SSU and the global wine industry.

The year-long construction and expansion project transformed the existing University Commons building into a state-of-the-art learning center that includes three advanced-technology classrooms, student commons, café and garden areas, and collaborative spaces for faculty and business leaders. A generous combination of private and naming gifts totaling $11 million were secured for the project.

“This state-of-the-art center is a true reflection of both the character and business needs of our wine-growing region,” said President Judy K. Sakaki. “My deepest gratitude to all of our generous partners who made this dream come to fruition.”

“This innovative new learning center represents two decades of collaboration among public and private individuals and organizations who share our vision to be the global leader in wine business education and research,” Interim Dean of the School of Business and Economics, Dr. Karen Thompson, said. “Through the hard work and generosity of our partners, the Wine Business Institute has transitioned to the international stage with a global audience of students who are advancing their careers while supporting the success of the wine industry.” 

“This is not only the grand opening of a customized learning environment, it also creates a home for us to execute on our mission to be the educational nucleus of the global wine industry,” Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute, Ray Johnson, said. “By bringing together business and community stakeholders from around the world, we expect this new facility will enable even more innovation, more advanced public policies, and better-trained leaders for a changing industry.”

The event will begin with a reception on the main quad in front of the new building, featuring wine from WBI program alumni and board members. Welcome remarks will be provided by SSU President, Judy Sakaki, and Marvin Shanken, chairman of M. Shanken Communications, Inc., publisher of Wine Spectator magazine. Additional remarks will be provided by U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson of California’s Fifth District and founder of the Congressional Wine Caucus, and California State Senator Bill Dodd, representing the Third District. Event activities will also include participation by members of the WBI board, alumni, and faculty. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the doors will open for self-guided tours of the new facility.

Construction of the project began on June 1, 2016 with an official groundbreaking ceremony attended by luminaries in government, education, and industry. The May 29 event represents the first official wine community activity held by the WBI in the Wine Spectator Learning Center.

Media are encouraged to attend. For special considerations, specific interview requests, or assistance coordinating photo/video opportunities, please contact Dan Virkstis at or (707) 664-2831. For general event information, please contact Jessica Pozzi in the Wine Business Institute at or (707) 664-3347. 

Media Contact

Paul Gullixson