The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Executive director of wine business Ray Johnson announces retirement

    Johnson, who had been teaching since 2010, reflects on his time at Sonoma State
    Courtesy of Johnson has been in the wine business since 1986

    Ray Johnson, the executive director of the wine business institute, has announced his retirement after joining the wine business in 1986. 

    Johnson’s career began when he worked for Christian Brothers’ Greystone Cellars in Saint Helena. He started out as a sales man in the store and eventually moved into higher positions.

    From there, he worked directly with consumers, which led to him receiving his masters in Wine Business at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.

    Johnson started teaching at Sonoma State in 2010, and has remained on the campus for the past 14 years. Since then he has taught an array of classes which has introduced students to the major of wine business as well as scholarships and internships through his connections.

    In 2012, he  worked with a coalition of stakeholders, in both the university and the wine industry, to launch the Executive Wine MBA, which was the first executive wine business MBA program in the nation.

     Johnson has also aided in founding the Sonoma State Wine Cellars which gives students hands-on experiences working on site. From this organization they have created a selling brand – Sonoma State Cellar – with many different wines.

    “Our biggest wins have come through our relationships, with board members and staff members, internal and wine industry faculty, alumni and students. My friends and colleagues are a true source of joy for me.”

    — Ray Johnson, Executive Director of the Wine Business

    When asked about his position as WBI director, Johnson said, “My days as a teacher actually preceded my role as WBI Director that began in 2010. I find the subject of wine business to be immensely satisfying. The world of wine is far from static, a competitive market and a landscape that is ever changing.” 

    Johnson went on to elaborate when and said, “Together we have built a legacy, the next generation of wine industry leadership. When our colleagues in the wine industry think of wine business education, they think of Sonoma State and the Wine Business Institute.”

    Johnson’s work doesn’t go unnoticed, in a Sonoma State Newsletter, President Mike Lee said, “Ray is a tireless advocate for Sonoma State University and the WBI, which was a pioneer in providing wine business education and research through innovative programming and robust partnerships with the wine community.”

    Johnson’s time at SSU has been extremely impactful on the campus and his work will live on for many years to come. 

    To the SSU campus and the students he’s impacted, Johnson says, “Thank you for the most rewarding work of my lifetime.”

    Donate to Sonoma State Star

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Sonoma State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    About the Contributor
    Coreen Brogan
    Coreen Brogan, Staff Writer
    Coreen Brogan is a third year communication studies major at Sonoma State.
    Donate to Sonoma State Star