Wine Entrepreneurship at Sonoma State

I am delighted to announce that Anisya Thomas Fritz, proprietor of Lynmar Estate, will Proprietor of Lymar Estatelead Sonoma State’s Wine Entrepreneurship Course.  I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Fritz at Lynmar after she brought on an intern from Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute.  We discussed the programs and courses at the Institute and my desire to find someone who could bring the practical experience of building a brand to our course for entrepreneurs.

I came to learn that not only has Dr. Fritz been intimately involved in the building of the Lynmar brand but that she also had an extensive background in education prior to entering the wine industry.  I asked her if she would be willing to lead the next course and was delighted when she agreed.  Anisya’s experience will take the class well beyond where it has gone before, advancing the careers of those who participate.

The ten week course offers participants the opportunity to begin a business plan and lay a solid foundation for their next wine business.  An added opportunity is running in parallel to the class; that is the annual business plan competition at Sonoma State.  Participants who are serious about launching a new business will find additional support and the opportunity to showcase the top plans in front of investors later in the semester.

Previous participants used the class not only to launch new wine businesses but also to revise existing business plans and manage transitions from grower to vintner.  While this class is not inexpensive at $750, it is a bargain when considering the cost to hire a consultant for 30 hours.  And the price of admission could certainly save the cost of a serious mistake in a new venture.

Following are the details.  Take advantage of the opportunity if you can.

Cheers everyone!  Ray Johnson
Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute

Beginning February 2, 2012 Wine Entrepreneurship will commence its weekly meetings, covering a broad array of topics focused on creating and managing businesses in the wine industry.  Anisya Thomas Fritz, who has taught strategic management and entrepreneurship at other well-known universities, brings her first-hand experience of running the operations at Lynmar Estate to the students of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University.  Enrollment will be very limited so as to allow for individual attention in assisting the participants’ entrepreneurial ambitions.

“The wine industry is at a very interesting phase in its evolution, and the skills of managing people and resources are becoming more critical to survival and success.  Yet, because this industry sits at the nexus of agriculture, the management of cash and marketing, and has rigorous regulatory compliance requirements, there are nuances that are important to understand,” Anisya explains.

The course will focus on the creation of a plan for a new business in the wine industry and the process and method for building a model for a successful venture. The emphasis will be on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills that can be used in any business context. Topics covered will include an assessment of the competitive landscape, models of profitability, financial and regulatory frameworks, distribution and wholesale versus direct-to-consumer sales and the elements of a successful brand. Well known industry guest speakers will include:

  • Honore Comfort, Executive Director, Sonoma County Vintners
  • Tammy Boatright, President, Ving Direct
  • Clayton Fritz, President, Fritz Winery
  • Charles and Diana Karren, Proprietors, Terra De Promisso
  • Ken Freeman, Proprietor, Freeman Winery

Course Dates:  February 2 to April 5, 2012, Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Register online
through Sonoma State’s School of Extended Education.  For more information about the program phone: 1.707.664.2260 or email

About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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