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Carson College of Business WSU New Online Wine Business Management Certificate Program Unique to Burgeoning Washington Industry

WSU New Online Wine Business Management Certificate Program Unique to Burgeoning Washington Industry

Story & photos by Maegan Murray

bottle-iconRegardless of previous business experience or professional level, participants of all types will gain from the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management’s new online certificate in wine business management, which is unique to Washington state’s flourishing wine industry.

Beginning in January 2017, the new noncredit certificate program will be offered in six modules developed and taught by WSU business faculty with interests in wine business, as well as industry professionals with unique expertise in wine business marketing; financial management; and specific legal, compliance, and trademark issues.

In addition to the online classes, the program requires two weekend experiences in the Tri-Cities’ wine country. The experiences provide students with opportunities to network and learn from wine industry professionals with comprehensive knowledge and success in the Washington wine industry, in addition to WSU Tri-Cities’ world-class faculty and fellow students on the business of wine. Students will be responsible for their own travel and lodging while attending the two weekend experiences.

“Throughout the program, participants will be developing a business plan, or a strategic plan, looking at a wine or related business,” says Robert Harrington, WSU Tri-Cities professor of hospitality and wine business management.

Harrington, who leads the program at the WSU Tri-Cities campus, says students have the flexibility to focus on a potential business they are thinking about or are currently developing and want to refine their ideas. He says participants could also already have a business. In that case, they could take what they learn through the program and apply it to a particular project. The weekend experiences, he says, will provide participants with the hands-on, practical components to pull everything together.

“Objectives of the residential weekends will be multifaceted,” Harrington says. “It will give an opportunity for students to interact with their peers in the program while meeting and interacting with WSU faculty and winery owners. It will also include wine tours, wine tastings, and networking opportunities, just to name a few.”

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Robert Harrington, WSU Tri-Cities professor of hospitality and wine business management (right), presents during the WSU Tri-Cities convocation ceremony for graduating students in the Carson College of Business.

The six modules in the program include:

  • Wine business strategic planning
  • Wine business marketing management
  • Financial management
  • Legal, compliance, and trademark issues
  • Small business management
  • Wine tourism management

Developed in coordination with the viticulture and enology certificate programs already offered through WSU, the program is offered through WSU’s School of Hospitality Business Management, which is housed in the WSU Carson College of Business. Harrington says the pairing of hospitality business management and wine business into one program is uncommon.

“There are very few wine business-focused certificates in the United States,” Harrington says. “On the same token, having a wine business program and a wine science program together on one campus is also very unique. Typically, university programs are focused on one or the other.”

Thomas Henick-Kling, WSU director of viticulture and enology, says he is excited that WSU now offers three certificate programs for the wine industry, of which include viticulture, enology, and wine business.

“Together, the three programs offer a strong and unique education option,” he says.

Ted Baseler, president and chief executive officer of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, says the new wine business management certificate program “provides wine professionals with a solid understanding of the wine industry.”

The cost of the certificate program is $4,995. Participants may also take individual modules at a rate of $995 per module.

Harrington says while the new certificate program is focused on wine business, the skills set participants will gain extend beyond the wine world.

“The skills set students gain will be applicable to other business sets,” he says. “Participants are learning skills that will be beneficial in most business aspects, regardless of type.”


Learn more about the online wine business management certificate program.

Washington State University