November 7 Graduation Planned for Napa Executive Wine MBA Students

Industry Leaders and Veterans Among Recipients of World's Only Executive Degree in Wine Business
November 5, 2015

Rohnert Park, California - The School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced a graduation celebration for its latest cohort of Napa-based Executive Master of Business Administration in Wine (Executive Wine MBA) students will take place on campus November 7, 2015, from 2 - 5 p.m. in the Student Commons and future home of the Wine Spectator Learning Center, a 15,000-square-foot facility dedicated to wine business education, research, and industry. The event begins with a welcome reception followed by presentation of degrees, including opening remarks by Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics, and class remarks by graduate Christopher Sebastiani of Pacific Wine and Spirits, and graduate Towle Merritt, General Manager and Viticulturist for Walsh Vineyards Management. The Executive Wine MBA program is offered at locations in both Napa and Sonoma counties. ​ 

"It's gratifying to witness the growth of our students over the course of their program, and this group of professionals developed in remarkable ways, both personally and professionally. While every cohort is different, our executive-level programs draw the industry's top talent, who in turn benefit from the curriculum and each other in developing their leadership and wine business acumen," Executive Director of Graduate and Executive Programs, John Stayton said.

Other graduates of the Executive Wine MBA, Class of 2015, include Matthew Belli, Accountant for Atlas Vineyard Management; Johanna Bernstein, Director of Sales & Marketing for Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery; Aimee Chang, Proprietor and General Manager of Nine Suns Estate Winery; Natalie Darves-Bornoz, Owner and President of Cougar Acres Consulting; Brandon deLeuze, Associate Winemaker with ZD Wines; Michael Fassler, counsel with Lubin Olson & Niewiadomski; Christopher Hyde, Manager of Hyde Wines; Adam Ivor, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Gliding Eagle; David Junod, Operations Manager for Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyards; Scott Lloyd, Vice President of National Sales with Frank Family Vineyards; Leslie McCain, Marketing Associate with Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants; Natalia Peregoy, Production Accountant for Don Sebastiani & Sons; William Phelps, Sales Representative for Joseph Phelps Vineyards; Evan Roades-Brown, Operations Analyst for Kenwood Vineyards; William Thomas, Viticulturist with Ridge Vineyards; Stacy Vogel, Winemaker for Miner Family Winery; and Shannon Walker, Marketing Coordinator at Free Flow Wines.

For information regarding the upcoming Executive Wine MBA graduation celebration, or for information regarding graduate and executive programs in the School of Business and Economics, please visit or contact the Graduate and Executive Program office at (707) 664-3501 or

# # #

About the Wine Spectator Learning Center:
The Wine Spectator Learning Center is a 15,000 square foot educational complex designed around advanced technology classrooms, a student commons and gardens for student-run businesses and collaboration, and an industry center for professional and academic faculty and program leadership. The new building is expected to facilitate an educational experience befitting the unique location, curriculum, and depth of network and expertise on offer. Construction is slated to begin in 2016, with completion in 2017. Partners and contributors to date include the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation; Robin Baggett of Alpha Omega Winery and Tolosa Vineyards & Winery; Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Bouchaine Vineyards; Gary Heck of Korbel; Terry Lindley of American AgCredit; Charles Merinoff of Charmer Sunbelt; The Michael Family of Peter Michael Winery; Fred Pierce of Pierce Education Properties; Ron Rubin of The Rubin Family of Wines; and Chris Underwood of Young's Market Company.

About the School of Business and Economics:
The School of Business and Economics (SBE) is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a standard of excellence shared by only 15 percent of business schools worldwide. Its mission is to create extraordinary student learning experiences and advance best business practices in the north San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. It is committed to a triple bottom line for organizational success, including social equity, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity. SBE fosters a vibrant community and sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, including innovative campus-wide, community-based initiatives that serve as the educational nucleus of a thriving regional economy with global impact. With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1,600 students each year, and degrees and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, SBE offers some of the most unique and in-demand programs available. For more information, please visit