Top 3 Wine MBA Programs, Facilities, Curriculum and Opportunities for Entrepreneurial MBA Students

Top 3 Wine MBA ProgramFrance, Spain, Italy and Germany, also known as the ‘old world’, once dominated the wine industry. During 1980-84, old world countries accounted for 58% of the production volume, which came down to 53% in 2009. On the other hand, New world countries grew from 18% to 26% in the same period.

The recent entrants to wine production or the ‘new world’ countries include Australia, US, Latin America, South Africa, and New Zealand. In the new world, consumption has not increased much, but the increase in production has led to a rise in exports. While the old world once had 76% of the export market share in 1980-84, it was at 60% in 2009. In the same period, the new world increased its market share from 2% to 31%.

The world's biggest wine consuming markets according to 2009 data are USA at $20 billion, France at $16 billion and UK at $8 billion. China is among the world's fastest growing market for wine consumption, which tripled in size to reach $3 billion in 2009. It is expected to double by 2015 and is set to one day become the world's #1 wine consumer.

While consumption in countries like USA, UK and Russia are also growing, it is decreasing rapidly in countries like France and Italy. However, the global potential for growth in the wine industry can be predicted based on the per capita consumption of wine; it was around 12 liters in US, 1 liter in China, 54 liters in France, while the Italians consumed 53 liters.

The above data shows that wine as a global market is on an upward trend, driven by the 'new world' wine producers, and the new consumer markets. This has raised a demand for a niche management degree – the Wine MBA. These MBA programs cover the business aspect of marketing wines in a globalized world. The best Wine MBA options are part-time programs designed for professionals who are working in the industry, or wish to shift careers into the business of wine making, distribution and marketing.

1) BEM - Wine & Spirits MBA

The BEM School of Management, Bordeaux, France, offers a 24-month MBA program that is conducted on a Part-time basis. Formerly known as the Wine MBA, BEM MBA program has been expanded to cover spirits and requires just 64 days outside the office. It consists of four 2-week sessions that are held in Bordeaux - France, Sonoma - USA, Adelaide - Australia, and Hong Kong - China. Altogether, there are 646 teaching hours and 1,500 personal study hours.

The Wine & Spirits MBA is supported by wine companies in 60+ countries, ranging all the way from Argentina to Australia. The program provides comprehensive coverage of traditional as well as new markets, equipping wine industry management personnel with leadership skills, insight and skills to thrive in a rapidly growing and competitive market.  
The curriculum covers the core of Marketing, Managing People, Corporate Finance, Supply Chain & Operations Management, Strategic Management, Information System Management, Entrepreneurship & Leadership, Economics, International Business and Environmental Forces. Students must choose one elective from Wine & Spirits Tourism, Wine & Spirits Sustainability, Wine & Spirits Industry - The Creative Turn and Auctions & Judgments.

Students also complete the Wine & Spirits MBA dissertation,
which is a research-based project tackling a business issue and can cover countries like Australia, Japan, China, India, Chile, Argentina, France and USA. The contact sessions involve classroom sessions, case studies, workshops and industry visits. Students learn from both academicians and industry experts. Group and individual presentations are followed by industry visits. Wine MBA graduates have seen 50% average salary increases, 41% vertical progression within the organization and 47% have jumped to international firms.

2) UC Davis Wine Executive Program

Also called "From Grape to Table" this is a 4-day program held jointly by UC Davis' Graduate School of Management and Department of Viticulture & Enology. The program teaches the basics of winemaking as well as management for profiting from the lucrative wine industry. The Executive program is designed for mid to senior level managers, suppliers, distributors, financial companies and affiliated businesses from the industry. Investors and entrepreneurs seeking to enter the business will also find the program useful.

The program is divided into 4 parts - Boot Camp Sessions (Accounting & Finance for Non-Financial Managers, and Grape Growing & Wine Making 101), Business, Economics & the Law, Wine Marketing & Branding and Viticulture & Enology. Marketing and branding strategies combined with the latest hi-tech devices like the new LEED platinum winery at UC Davis make it a state of the art program for the wine industry. Participants usually include 15+ American states and countries like France, Italy, Australia, China, Chile and Argentina.

MBA students can also leverage the Wine Business Consulting Group (WBC) to learn more about the wine industry and find a career here. The WBC club provides consulting services for the industry. Students get the opportunity to work on industry projects and build a relevant network with the club.

3) Sonoma School of Business & Economics

Sonoma MBA in Wine Business is a part-time evening MBA with a Concentration in Wine Business. The curriculum combines the MBA core courses with the latest strategies for global wine business, particularly in sales, marketing, and sustainability.  Wine MBA graduates are tutored to fulfill leadership roles across the wine industry. Sonoma is located in the midst of California wine country, and offers local internships, special study sessions, projects and professional networking opportunities. The class meets once a week between 7pm & 9:40pm.

There are four core courses, followed by three theme areas - International Business & Global Issues, Contemporary Business Issues and Leadership & Ethics. Students then choose 2 electives, design a special study experience or take up an internship. The course ends with the capstone project which involves a complete business plan for a company, or for an entrepreneurial new wine venture. Past projects were held at companies like companies like Parducci, e-Winery Solutions, Landmark and Kokomo.

Speakers from the wine industry are a constant presence in the school. Students also frequently visit vineries for hands-on learning. Sonoma's North Bay iHub and Wine Business Institute helps innovative and entrepreneurial-minded MBA students to learn from academia and the wine industry.

Recommended Resources

1) BEM - Wine & Spirits MBA
2) UC Davis Wine Executive Program
3) Sonoma MBA in Wine Business

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