Sonoma State University announced the first French Language Certificate for Wine Business in the United States.
"Many students in our classes are now studying both French and wine business," says Sonoma State French language professor Suzanne Toczyski. "Since France is perceived to be the one of the greatest wine countries in the world, there seemed to be a natural synergy."
Full-time students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in wine business can now add a French language proficiency certificate to their degree at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level.
Sonoma State Wine business professor Liz Thach recalls a class trip to France last year when Brielle Charmasson, a student studying wine business and French, saved the day. "We were visiting a small winery in Burgundy and the owner didn't speak English. Though we had a French tour guide for translation, he was challenged by the winemaking terms. Then Brielle volunteered to help with the translation," says Thach. "The owner was so impressed he offered her a job when she finished her degree."
After that trip, Toczyski and Thach started designing the certificate program with input from other faculty.
The new certification will be launched in fall 2015. In French classes at all levels, students incorporate elements of French wine culture into their course projects.
Students in the wine business program already study French wine regions, varietals and winemaking terms, and are required to complete an internship. Students in the French language certificate for wine business program will be paired with local wineries owned and operated by French winemakers, when possible, or will be encouraged to seek a summer internship with a winery in France.
Charmasson is excited about the new program. "I love French, but trying to complete two majors or even add a minor increases the amount of time and money for college," she says. "This certification lets me pursue my love for the French language and wine business in an efficient manner."
Ray Johnson, director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State, is also excited about the new certificate program. "We hope to be able to offer a similar certificate for other languages in the future," he says.