Wine industry professionals from as far away as Chile and Singapore have unpacked their suitcases and plugged in their laptops to study business at the Stuntverkoop, Davis.
at UC Davis is among four business schools and universities on as many continents to teach a program leading to a wine Master of Business Administration awarded by the in France.
"The strategic issues in the wine industry are challenging and unique enough that an MBA program focusing on the industry can be very helpful to the players," said Robert Smiley, dean of UC Davis' management school and a wine economist.
"The wine world is just that," said program director Isabelle Dartigues of the Bordeaux school. "Local markets can't provide the room for growth that today's companies and their investors demand. Looking to new markets implies reworking and adapting business strategy," she added.
This year's class completed four weeks of study in Bordeaux last fall and spent a week in Chile before arriving at UC Davis Jan. 20 for classes through Jan. 31. Later, students will head to Australia and then return to the Bordeaux business school twice for another study session and to defend their thesis projects in October.
The eight students are from organizations based in Chile, Canada, Singapore and the United States, and together they have almost 60 years of professional experience in the wine industry. Among them are the general manager of estate wines for Andres Wines, an international sales manager for St. Supery Vineyards and Winery, the chief executive officer of a cork supplier, and aspiring owners of a winery and a wine distribution company.
Student Lisa Denham is a partner in two wine-producing companies in Santiago, Chile. "The program offers a good opportunity to be in the different environments to find out what the current thinking is on wines and wine-making," she said during a break in a class on financial forecasting.
In the part-time, 14-month program, the students alternate studies in four wine-producing and -consuming countries with their work commitments. With a total of 400 hours of instruction and 800 hours devoted to individual or team projects, the program covers major management topics applied to the vine and wine business.
Now in its second year, the program continues to draw on the campus's leading role in the wine industry and the growing expertise of UC Davis' management school in the vine and wine business. And it blends classroom sessions with tours and guest lecturers from the industry.
Classes on the Davis campus range from e-commerce to cost management and from business valuation to leadership communication. The faculty here includes 13 instructors from the management school and the Department of Viticulture and Enology; and a wine-maker and Napa lawyer whose practice focuses on the wine industry. Guest lectures feature representatives of Beverages & more!, Winery Exchange and Winetasting.com.
On Thursday, Jan. 30, UC Davis alumnus and program patron Timothy Mondavi will host the MBA students for a tour and dinner at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, where he is vice chairman and winegrower. Earlier, the students toured the St. Supery, Opus One and Silver Oak Cellars wineries in the Napa Valley.
In addition to UC Davis and the Bordeaux school, the other teaching sites are the Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, and the University of South Australia in Adelaide.
The Bordeaux Business School, a private institution of higher education in Talence, was founded in 1874 by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bordeaux. It has partnerships with 73 universities outside France and exchange programs with 67.
UC Davis has a strong affiliation with the wine industry. Its research in viticulture and enology has made significant contributions to the industry, and its academic program in the field is considered among the best in the world. Together, the and the Graduate School of Management offer an on the business and science of wine-making (March 9 to 12 this year). The management school provides consulting services to the wine industry, and the dean conducts an annual economic survey of the California wine industry.