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358679: The Business of Wine Management

  • Winter 2018
  • Section 1
  • 2 Credits
  • 02/15/2018 to 03/22/2018
  • Modified 02/14/2018


This course covers the business aspects of wine. Topics include production: the business of growing grapes, making wine, and getting the product to market; importing and distributing: getting the wine into the country and/or distributing it to retailers and restaurants; retailing: getting wine to end users while observing the complicated legal issues surrounding the three-tiered alcohol distribution system in the United States; and the restaurant: dealing with purveyors, inventory, price controls, storage, constructing a wine list, creating a by-the-glass program, serving techniques, glassware, and basic service through full service.


The goal of this class is to demystify the labyrinthine structure of the wine business in the United

States, to examine various facets of the wine business from production to consumption, and how they interact with each other. The class objective is for students to have a working knowledge of the wine business from top to bottom that will prepare them for working in the wine industry in some capacity, including roles in retail, wholesale, production, public relations, and service.





  • Wine Production – Definitions, Roles, Costs & Issues
  • Grape Growing
  • Winemaking
  • Bulk Market / Negociant / Private Label Wines
  • Wholesale Wine Sales - Definitions, Roles, Costs & Issues
  • Three-tier System and Licensing
  • Direct to Consumer Sales
  • Importing
  • Distributors, Brokers
  • Off Premise Wine Sales - Definitions, Roles, Costs & Issues
  • Types: Traditional Retail, Online
  • Wine Selection & Inventory Management
  • Pricing
  • On-Premise Wine Sales - Definitions, Roles, Costs & Issues
  • Types: Hotel, Restaurant, Wine Bar
  • Wine List Creation & Inventory Management
  • Pricing
  • Service
  • Glassware
  • Other Roles in the Wine Industry - Definitions, Roles, Costs & Issues
  • Marketing & Promotion
  • Wine Writers
  • Wine Reviewers
  • Wine Education
  • Alternative Careers in the Wine Industry


There will be approximately 15 guest speakers for this course.  All guest speakers are working professionals and they have been scheduled according to their availability, not to the Course Topics list.   Most of the topics will be covered at some point throughout the four class meetings, not necessarily in the order listed above. The course topics will be presented primarily by the guest speakers.  The guest speakers have a wide range of industry experience and will be expressing their opinions based on their own personal history.  The instructors encourage you to listen to their opinions, ask questions, read up on the topics, look for contrary opinions, and then form your own opinions.  Remember the old proverb - there are two sides to every coin.

Required Reading:

Not applicable.   Wine industry professionals will guest lecture on the various topics, with discussions moderated by instructors.  Attendance is mandatory for a passing grade. 

Recommended Readings:

Wine Business Monthly

The Wall Street Journal

The New York Times

The Los Angeles Times

San Francisco Chronicle Food Pages

LA Weekly

The World Atlas Of Wine, Johnson & Robinson (sixth edition 10/07)  * required for Vintage II and III



Examinations consist of a series of short answer questions that must be completed throughout the course, based on the content of each week.  To answer the questions properly, you must be able to cite specific examples given in class by the guest speakers. THIS IS THE REASON ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY.  The final exam will differ slightly from this format, a more comprehensive project reflecting on lessons learned during the course.



A traditional grading system utilizing a 100-point scale is used.  A grade of’ C’ or better is required for participants of the Certificate in Wine Education & Management. 

[Note: The “D” grade has been eliminated and “all courses to be applied toward a certificate must be taken for a letter grade; students must earn an overall 2.5 GPA or better to successfully complete the program.]

Course grades are based on attendance, class participation and final exam.

Letter Grade   Points/Percentage       

A                     90-100

B                     80-89  

C                     70-79  

F                        0-69  

One final project, delivered five days after the final class; worth 20 points 

Students are expected to…

 Arrive on time and sign in for every class.  The sign-in sheets are used to track attendance.

 Turn in homework assignments, pickup handouts, gather tasting equipment.

 Choose a seat and be prepared to begin when class starts. 

 Turn cell phones off and step outside if you need to take a call. 


Treat each wine tasting as a professional:

 All wine served is meant for the purpose of tasting, not consumption. 

 Required use of spit cups and buckets.

 Treat every wine objectively.  Analyze for what it is, not whether it is liked or disliked.

 Develop own opinions; listen and respect other opinions in the classroom.  

 Participate in class discussions and share their impressions of the wines tasted.

 Take notes for each wine tasted in class.



 Incompletes: The interim Incomplete Grade may be assigned when a student's work is of passing quality, but a small portion of the course requirements is incomplete for good cause (e.g. illness or other serious problem).  It is the student’s responsibility to discuss with the instructor the possibility of receiving an “I” grade as opposed to a non-passing grade. The student is entitled to replace this grade by a passing grade and to receive unit credit provided they complete the remaining coursework satisfactorily, under the supervision of and in a time frame determined by the instructor in charge, but in no case later than the end of the next academic quarter. At that time, the Registrar will cause all remaining Incompletes to lapse to the grade "F". 


Note: Receiving an “I” does not entitle a student to retake all or any part of the course at a later date. Student Behavior involving cheating, copying other’s work, and plagiarism are not tolerated and will result in disciplinary action. Students are  responsible for being familiar with the information on Student Conduct in the General Information Section of the UCLA Extension Catalog or on the website at


Grading Status: If you wish to change your grading status you must have it finalized PRIOR to the final class meeting.  You CANNOT change your grading status after the final class meeting. 


Points Breakdown:

18% Attendance and class participation (3 points per class; 6 classes)

82% Exams: 15 short answer questions taken from guest speaker lectures 

(3 questions per week, first 5 weeks; each question is worth 4 points each; one final project, worth 22 points)

Course Policies


Throughout this course, we will discuss dozens of roles in the wine business.  We will present you with a variety of guest speakers who will speak about their roles and how they got to their current position.  The guest speakers will discuss the costs and issues that affect their business.  However, the instructors and guest speakers are not business advisors.   This is not a “how to” course - you will not receive specific instruction on how to run a winery, how to import wine, how to open a wine bar, how to create a wine list, how to become a wine writer, etc. 

Moreover since this class is only 4 weeks long, we will not exhaust all of the topics covered above; though we’ll do our best to provide thought provoking discussions, and a set of tools which will prove useful going forward.

We will cover all of these topics from a theoretical standpoint and give you real world examples via the guest speakers.  You will leave this course with a solid understanding of how wine moves from producer to consumer - and the costs, roles and issues associated with this process.



Institutional Policies

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at:

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Office for Students with Disabilities at (310) 825-0183 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:


Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see:

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, Suite 113, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Additional Items

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    If you need assistance downloading student materials from your course, please contact Canvas Support or the UCLA Extension Learning Support Team.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:

Campus Safety Escorts

For students taking classes held on the UCLA campus and in and around Westwood Village, the UCLA Police Department provides a free walking escort service every day of the year from dusk until 1 a.m. Community Service Officers (CSOs) are available to walk students, faculty, staff members and visitors to and from anywhere on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the village apartments. CSOs are uniformed students who have received special training and are employed by the UCLA Police Department. To obtain an escort, please call (310) 794-9255 and allow 15 to 20 minutes for your escort to arrive. For complete information, see:


Course calendar and related activities
When Module Title Notes
Week 1
The System of Buying and Selling, and Why it Exists

The first class will be a combination of lectures, activities and guests; it will outline the business in a general sense.

Part 2:


Andrew Browne joins us from Precept Wine.

Founder, President and CEO

Andrew Browne launched Precept Wine in 2003 after garnering an extensive wine sales background including Southern Wine & Spirits, Chateau St. Jean, Associated Vintners, Corus Brands, and Constellation. He took Precept Wine from sales of zero to 300,000 cases in its first five years, and today it is the Northwest’s second largest wine company.


Week 2
Selling and Distributing Wine: The Three Tier System

Part 1:

We'll examine in detail the Three Tier System and the events which led to its inception, namely Temperance and Prohibition. 

Guest TBD:

Part 2:

David Organisak is a principal and sales manager for Veritas Imports, and will take us through some of the ins and outs of importing, distributing, and selling wine through the three tier system.

Week 3
Auctions, Production, and Sales in the Three Tier System

Part 1:

We'll have a brief introduction to wine production via powerpoint. Then we'll introduce Scott Torrence, a wine expert and sales director for Christies, in Beverly Hills, who'll speak with us on the business of selling wine via auction. 

Part 2:

Janie Brooks Heuck and Tom Hunter

Janie is the Managing Partner for Brooks Winery in Salem, Oregon, a remarkable dynamic winery with a pinot noir and riesling focus. Tom Hunter founded Revel Wine Merchants, a broker who sells, among many other brands, Brooks Wines. We'll talk about the ins and outs of making estate wines, and selling them nationwide. Tom will talk in detail about selling wine in the distribution tier of the three tier system, specifically through his role as a broker.


Week 4
The Business of Importing and Selling Wine at a Restaurant

Part 1:


Part 2:

Jim Knight, of the Knight Family who own and operate the WIne House in West LA, to talk about the retail side of the business of selling wine.

Week 5
Making Wine, Brokering Wine, Selling it Off Premise

Part 1:

We welcome Samantha Johnson, Associate Publisher for WIne & Spirits Magazine, on the ins and outs of marketing a magazine and its role in the wine industry. 

Part 2:

Orshi Kiss of Blue Danube Wine Company sells a remarkable portfolio of wines from the eastern part of Europe, including Croatia, Slovenia, Georgia, Hungary, and Austria. We'll talk specifically about the challenges and joys of selling that group of wines.

Week 6 Retail and Writing about Wine

Part I:

Samantha Dugan, Wine Country, Signal Hill, and

Part 2: