The 15th Annual Wine Executive Program
“A wonderful program delivered by the top experts of the industry.” Ben Williams, VP of Sales at Wattle Creek Winery

This past March, the Graduate School of Management, in partnership with the Department of Viticulture and Enology, hosted the 15th annual UC Davis Wine Executive Program. The program is uniquely designed to blend both the business and science of winemaking, teaching the fundamentals of grape growing and winemaking as well as the finance, marketing, and management skills necessary to be profitable in today’s challenging and dynamic wine industry.

“The Wine Executive Program at UC Davis was a definite highlight in the continuing education aspect of my career.” Marianne Healer, SPHR-CA, Director of HR, Duckhorn Wine Co.

Drawing in 60 attendees, the program started with participants selecting one of two boot camps to attend, one focused on accounting to bring the scientist in the room quickly up to speed on basic financial statement development and analysis, and the second focused on grape growing and winemaking to bring the business participants up to speed on basic viticulture and enology concepts.

“A friend and I recently purchased a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina and have begun the process of growing grapes and making wine. Despite our love of wine, neither of us had hands on experience, prompting me to attend UC Davis’ Wine Executive Program in hopes of acquiring a broad foundation in all aspects of the craft. I was not disappointed. Not only were my expectations exceeded, I also developed a network of leading professionals that will endure for years to come. It was one of the most energizing and productive weeks I have ever spent.” John Raffaeli at C3 Argentina Holdings

The boot camps were followed by sessions on the global wine market, financial management of wineries and vineyards, vineyard challenges and wine production in the challenging modern economy, strategic cost management, marketing, distribution, situational leadership, building a network for innovation, legal aspects of the wine industry, and vineyard and winery operations of the future. Tours of the UC Davis LEED Platinum Certified winery (the only one in the world) and the UC Davis experimental vineyard were also part of the program. Woven through the program was a specially designed case study that participants worked on in small groups, getting the opportunity to put the classroom learning into action in order to develop a completely new winery concept to present to faculty and fellow participates on Friday.

“This program gives an excellent overview and trends in the wine industry, from novice to experts.” Humberto Rincon, Owner, Grower and New Entrant to the Wine Industry at Hacienda Rincon Vineyard in Morgan Hill, CA

In addition to the classroom work, the program provided participants many opportunities for networking, including off-site dinners, group lunches, and a bit of free time to explore the town and engage with each other. These social learning opportunities are a critical part of the week, as the program brought together 60 individuals involved in almost every aspect of the wine industry. Winemakers, winery and vineyard managers, financial executive, human resource professionals and individuals working for major suppliers to the industry (glass bottle producers, financial institutions, and media) were in attendance, as well as individuals who have worked in the industry for years and those just looking to make a career change or start their second career in wine. Participants came from as far as Indonesia and as nearby as Vacaville to experience the program, representing companies such as:

  • Duckhorn Wine Company
  • E & J Gallo Winery
  • Jamieson Ranch Winery
  • King Estate
  • Saint Gobain
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • The Wine Group
  • Wattle Creek Winery
  • Zirkle Fruit Company
  • And many more…

“UC Davis Wine Executive Program is a great program to update my knowledge and understanding of the new advancements in viticulture and enology as well as the new trends on the commercial side of the wine business. Student participation is also equally enriching. I strongly recommend this program to anyone who wishes to stand out in the wine business.” Yohan Handoyo, Deputy CEO at Sababay Winery in Jakarta, Indonesia


Participants also joined the program from the great group of sponsoring organizations, including Exclusive Gold Medal Sponsors:

  • O-I
  • Trinchero Family Estates
  • Wente Family Estates


Gold Medal Media Sponsors:

  • Wine Business Monthly
  • Wines & Vines


Silver Medal Sponsors:

  • American AgCredit
  • Cakebread Cellars
  • Constellation Brands
  • Delicato Family Vineyards


And Lunch and Dinner Sponsors:

  • Crimson Wine Group
  • Union Bank


See a collection of photos from the event on the UC Davis Wine Executive Program facebook page:

“UC Davis Wine Executive Program provided me the right tools to ask the right questions. Excellent/superior program with great speakers. Great perspective of the wine industry.” Juan Jose Verdina Bosch, Winemaker and Production Manager at Jamieson Ranch Winery, Napa Valley


Thank you to all who participated in making this event so special. To attendees, please share your experience and encourage your friends and colleagues to consider attending the program next year. Registration for the 2016 program, which will happen on March 20-25, 2016, opens in August.