Professor Emeritus Wally Lowry Expands Legacy to Future Wine Spectator Learning Center

Legendary Founder of Wine Business Education Designates Leadership Suite in 15,000-Square-Foot Advanced Technology Facility
December 7, 2015

Rohnert Park, California - The Wine Business Institute (WBI) at Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced that Professor Emeritus Wally Lowry contributed $300,000 to student scholarships and the future Wine Spectator Learning Center, an education and industry hub designed around advanced technology classrooms, a student commons and gardens, and a collaborative space for faculty and business leaders. Between 1969 and 2001, Professor Emeritus Lowry taught all areas of accounting, auditing, and taxation in the School of Business and Economics at SSU. In 1996, as program director he helped launch the first Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Wine Business Strategies. During this time, in addition to operating an independent accounting firm, he participated as a board member for numerous community benefit organizations, many of which he continues to serve today, including the Santa Rosa Rotary Club, Sonoma County Alliance, Sonoma State University Academic Foundation, and as president of the Empire Breakfast Club.     
"Since the beginning, wine business education at SSU has been a partnership between industry and education built on a love of wine. We started the program because the industry had a need and we had solutions. In the early days, we grew the curriculum from the ground up and helped wineries learn techniques to reduce tax liability through new inventory procedures and capitalizing leases of high-cost equipment, among other strategies," Wally Lowry, Professor Emeritus of Business at Sonoma State University said. "Today, those techniques are the international standard and the Wine Business Institute is a global leader in research and education. I'm proud to give alongside the great names in the wine industry. Through it all, we've developed important friendships among winery owners, workers, and families, such as Gary Heck at Korbel, Henry Trione, Walt Klenz at Beringer, the Sterling family, Gallo family, and others. Their wonderful support combined with the School's enhanced reputation is at the heart of our shared success.
Professor Emeritus Lowry is a retired U.S. Navy Captain and holds a degree in economics from Stanford University and a Master in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. He began his career in public accounting in 1959. In addition to his substantial gift to the Wine Spectator Learning Center, he supports students through annual scholarships for Business Majors in Accounting and Finance through the SSU "Wally & Ellie Lowry Accounting & Finance Scholarship Fund." 
"This is a special gift since it's from one of our own. When I'm in the community speaking with alumni, many of them mention Wally as one of the faculty who had a major impact on their career and lives. Among his greatest contributions to the School of Business and Economics are the first wine business classes ever taught, and the creation of the Wine Business Institute. On behalf of the entire University community, I thank him for his selfless dedication to the next generation of business leaders, and for his strong legacy of public service," William S. Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics said.   
Construction of the Wine Spectator Learning Center is expected to begin in 2016 with completion in 2018. The new facility will provide an educational experience befitting the unique location, curriculum, and depth of network and expertise available to students of wine business. Additional partners and contributors to date include the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation; Robin and Michelle 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.
For more information about the Learning Center project, or for information about wine business education seminars, certificates, and degree programs of the Wine Business Institute, please call 707-664-3235 or visit