In the burgeoning wine industry, there’s a niche for everyone. And with that comes a workforce with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences. The key to producing future professionals who will bring greater value to every area of viticulture, wine production, marketing, sales, e-tail, or restaurant business is knowing how to successfully work within a team, according to wine industry leaders and Carson College hospitality faculty.
To give their food and beverage operations students hands-on practice in a realistic environment, hospitality faculty members Jim Harbour and Robert Harrington required them to participate in the annual Intercollegiate Wine Business Invitational, an online competition.
Students worked in teams to create a business plan, cost of goods and pricing financials, and a wine bottle label for a $25 California red wine blend.
The exercise aligns with The Next Carson Coug curriculum emphasis on the value of undergraduates learning to lead a team and act as an effective team member in all areas of business.
Effective Teamwork Results in Victory
The wine team won first place for their label “Glow”—a striking black and white motif inspired by a vision of friends sharing the glow of wine in a festive, casual atmosphere.
Their victory was the result of the individual students who contributed unique expertise to collectively “tell the story of their target consumer,” says Harbour.
The team included seniors Jami Deszo, Bonnie Robertson, Kasandra Hanson, Alexis Scotson, and Jayme Montague. Montague (’19 Mktg.) worked on financials and market research to determine the best target audience for wine blends. It became apparent that millennials are a new and growing market, and packaging has a strong influence on their purchasing decisions, she says. Deszo (’19 HBM) sourced the cost of grapes and appropriate purchase price for their blend. Hanson (’19 Wine & Bev. Bus. Mgmt.) contributed expertise on the financials and business plan portions as well as the wine tasting notes. Robertson (’19 Wine & Bev. Bus. Mgmt.) had the difficult task of creating the authentic tasting notes for the team’s “virtual” red blend. Once the team determined the type of grapes for the blend, Deszo and Scotson (’19 HBM, Mktg.) developed the wine label concept through story boarding and graphic design.
“Working in teams was the biggest challenge, as we had to find a common time to meet outside of class and develop our strategies,” says Montague. “But when the judges awarded our label first place, it was very rewarding knowing that our marketing research and product were correct and relevant.”
“I learned a lot more about teamwork and relying on each other’s strengths,” says Scotson. “It was cool figuring out the demographic for the label and applying what we’ve learned in class. We started out as strangers but became good friends in the process.”
Contest Springs From Collaboration
The contest was developed by Tim Hanni, wine business industry leader, who teaches in the Carson College wine business management professional certificate program. Originally, it was only open to a few schools, but Byron Marlowe, Carson College wine and beverage business management program coordinator, pitched Hanni the idea of opening it up to WSU and other universities with hospitality programs.
“Our participation and success in the contest shows future employers that our students can produce tangible products through teamwork, and it illustrates that WSU teaches the discipline of wine business versus ‘a class,’” says Marlowe. “The end result is that our students’ value is recognizable, and I’m very proud of that.”