Online Certificate in Wine Business Management



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Program Overview

An advanced understanding of wine business is essential to success in an evolving industry and an ever-changing marketplace. This important industry certification facilitates professional growth through advanced knowledge of wine business marketing, operations, and finance. 

Created by professionals for professionals.

The Certificate in Wine Business Management is developed and taught by wine business veterans and industry experts. Whether you're a current wine industry professional, a winemaker or viticulturist, or someone seeking entry to the wine industry, this program provides the business acumen necessary to grow your career. 

This comprehensive professional business certificate address key industry areas, including:

  • Wine commerce and trade
  • Wine marketing and sales
  • eCommerce 
  • Business issues associated with viticulture and winemaking
  • Traditional business functions of strategy in building a wine business
  • Finance, accounting, and management applied to the wine industry
  • Regulatory issues concerning wine
  • Optional certification with the successful completion of all three levels.


Certificate Structure, Fees & Schedule

Students in the online Certificate in Wine Business Management complete a total of 4 courses: Foundation (4 weeks), Intermediate (8 weeks), and two of three offered Advanced courses (8 weeks each). Professionals interested in pursuing the accredited Sonoma Wine MBA or the Sonoma Executive Wine MBA can waive the two-year industry experience admission requirement with successful completion of the Foundation and Intermediate course levels. 
Certificate course cycles offered three times a year in winter, spring, and fall, in a convenient online format accessible around the world.


Foundation Level

Course Fees* Schedule
Introduction to Wine Business

$695 Early Bird / $795 Regular

Save $100 with early bird registration.

Early bird ends 7 days before course start date.

  • Spring  4/22 - 5/20, 2021
  • Fall  9/02 - 9/30, 2021
  • Winter  2022 TBD


Intermediate Level

Course Fees* Schedule
A Survey of the Key Drivers in a Wine Business  $1100
  • Spring     3/04 - 4/29, 2021
  • Summer  6/3 - 7/29, 2021
  • Fall         10/11 - 12/06, 2021


Advanced Level: Choose and complete two courses.

Course Fees* Schedule

Direct to Consumer Marketing & eCommerce for Wine Businesses


  • 1/12 - 3/09, 2021
Wine Sales Management $1100
  • 3/16 - 5/11, 2021

Wine Production & Operations from a Business Perspective


  • 6/17 - 8/12, 2021

Strategic Wine Marketing


  •  6/23- 8/18, 2021

Financial Management & Strategy for Wine Businesses

  • 8/5-9/30, 2021


Join the Next Cohort

*Fees listed are for the current academic year and are subject to change without notice.


Course Learning Objectives

Introduction to Wine Business (Foundation)

This four-week course provides an overview of wine business. Students will develop an appreciation of the realities of the wine business as a business and come to understand the steps required for getting from the vineyard and into the glass of the consumer.

LO1: Understand the components of a wine business and the viewpoints of the various stakeholders in the following areas:

  • Grape growing, including costs, values, quality considerations, supply and demand, risks and opportunities
  • Production, winemaking, maturation and packaging
  • Marketing
  • Distribution, a complex and highly regulated process
  • Domestic sales, selling wine in retail stores (off-premise), restaurants and bars (on premise), online and direct to consumer (through tasting rooms, events, and wine clubs)
LO2: Understand how going to market with wine compares and contrasts with other consumer packaged goods.
LO3: Understand the key decision points, interrelatedness, and costs that go into growing, producing, marketing, distributing and selling a wine product.
LO4: Outline how quality and value is determined at each step in the process of grape growing, production, marketing, distribution, domestic and export sales and final point of sale.
LO5: Understand the financial resources and time periods necessary to establish a wine product.


A Survey of the Key Drivers in a Wine Business (Intermediate)

Building on the concepts developed in the Introduction to Wine Business, this eight-week course expands project-based learning focused on the business of making and selling wine. The class surveys key drivers of a wine business and the necessary decisions required when a wine business goes to market, to provide a deeper understanding of the entire value chain.

The subjects of marketing, distributing and selling are expanded to include managing a primary brand as well as a portfolio of products, including options for negociant brands.

LO1: Understand business issues associated with viticulture, production, marketing, distribution and  points of sale.
LO2: Evaluate alternative approaches associated with those issues.
LO3: Calculate costs across the component areas.​
LO4: Evaluate the contribution of the component areas to the value of a wine product.​
LO5: Expand the understanding of distribution and regulatory issues to include the international wine market.​
LO6: Assess the internal environment, identifying the strengths and weaknesses in a wine business.​
LO7: Assess the external environment, identifying the opportunities and threats to a wine business.​
LO8: Evaluate a SWOT analysis and draft a plan for going to market with a new wine business product.​
LO9: Plan for and consider future wine markets and alternative channels of wine commerce.​


Direct to Consumer Marketing & eCommerce for the Wine Industry (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course provides an in-depth study of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing and eCommerce, including digital marketing, from a wine industry perspective.  Participants will explore opportunities and challenges associated with eCommerce and DTC wine sales, and the methodology required to promote customer discovery, engagement, acquisition and loyalty.  This course begins with a history and overview of compliance and the development of the DTC channel, the transformation of software platforms and digital technology over the past 15 years, and key components of web design and development.  It then focuses on best practices in web, mobile, email, social media and all digital marketing channels to drive wine sales, tasting room visitation, event ticket sales, and wine club member acquisition and retention.

LO1: Explain how digital marketing and eCommerce play an integral role as part of a winery's overall omni-channel retailing strategy.
LO2: Make recommendations for the design and development of an eCommerce winery website and mobile platforms that utilize best practices from outside the wine industry.​
LO3: Recommend strategies for building customer engagement, retention, and loyalty for existing customers and prospects through eCommerce and digital marketing.​
LO4: Develop a DTC digital marketing strategy and budget to integrate into a winery's overall marketing plan.​
LO5: Effectively communicate with customers through traditional and new digital channels including web, email, mobile and social media marketing.​
LO6: Evaluate and optimize the consumer's mobile experience in all aspects of eCommerce and the DTC channel.​


Wine Sales Management

This 8-week online course provides an advanced education of sales and management training for suppliers and distributors in the wine and alcohol beverage industry.  Building on students’ previous coursework in the Wine Business Management or the Wine Sales Management programs this course is designed for employees and owners seeking to refine their sales management skills and deepen their knowledge around identifying markets, applying marketing materials to real world markets and developing multi-level pricing proposals for all sales channels. Students attend a weekly series of pre-recorded micro-lectures and submit activities or quizzes for each class.

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

LO1: Understand client/buyer decision profiles.
LO2: Identify business opportunities in all sales channels.
LO3: Understand buyer/client marketing and merchandising concepts.
LO4: Tailor product sales concepts for clients/buyers.
LO5: Employ networking strategies to close more sales to buyer/clients.
LO6: Compose and communicate various cost calculations.
LO7: Identify logistical inefficiencies and develop improved solutions.
LO8: Demonstrate effective work project management strategies.

Wine Production and Operations from a Business Perspective (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course provides an in-depth review of the business issues associated with wine production and operations. This level emphasizes basic concepts of operations, purchasing, logistics, and supply chain management as they apply to the wine industry. More specific topics include value analysis, total quality management, make/buy decisions, negotiation, and supplier development.

LO1: Explain the key business issues in the production and operation of a winery.
LO2: Identify supply chain management considerations for effective operations.
LO3: Describe the planning process from wine forecasting and product development through distribution.
LO4: Calculate total cost analysis and its role in supply procurement.
LO5: Assess the appropriateness of the capital equipment necessary to operate a winery.
LO6: Identify how quality is achieved in the production of wine.


Strategic Wine Marketing (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate Courses

This course presents concepts related to the marketing planning process for a wine business. It is organized around the steps involved in developing a marketing plan for a wine business. Topics to be addressed include an introduction to wine marketing concepts, market segmentation and targeting, the steps in brand creation, marketing implications of packaging decisions, integrated communication strategy, direct to consumer sales, and distribution strategy. The culminating project is the creation of a marketing and sales plan for the launch of a new wine business.

LO1: Describe important wine consumer segments.
LO2: Create a wine brand to appeal to a chosen target market.
LO3: Understand the marketing implications of package design.
LO4: Coordinate promotional elements of advertising, public relations, and special events.
LO5: Understand the complexities of wine distribution at the distributor and retail levels.
LO6: Create a distribution and sales strategy utilizing distributors and/or direct to consumer methods.
LO7: Describe key aspects of tasting room management.
LO8: Integrate wine marketing into a broader wine tourism context.
LO9: Describe the steps to importing and exporting wine.
LO10: Create a draft marketing and sales plan.


Financial Management & Strategy for Wine Businesses (Advanced)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Foundation and Intermediate courses.

This course provides an overview of financial issues relevant to companies in the wine industry, along with practical experience working with financial statements, reports and plans.  Major topics include financial planning and analysis; valuations; and principles of accounting.  Specific focus is placed upon company formation and acquisition; compliance and regulation; taxation issues; management of expenses and revenue models; and crafting successful business models.

LO1: Effectively integrate wine industry data into the business decision-making process.
LO2: Create a financial plan for wineries, vineyards and/or other wine industry businesses.
LO3: Develop a strategy for profitability for wine industry businesses.
LO4: Analyze basic financial reports.
LO5: Evaluate business performance through a financial filter.


LO6: Understand:

  • The role of different business structures and strategies in the wine industry.
  • The role of mergers and acquisitions in the wine industry.
  • The regulatory, tax, accounting and compliance framework of wine business operations.
LO7: Produce a basic valuation of a wide variety of businesses in the wine industry.



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Registration is done in partnership with the School of Extended and International Education