SSU, Penglai to establish wine academic partnership
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Representatives from Sonoma State University will meet with the mayor of Penglai, China, Sun Yebao, today, June 14, to establish an academic partnership between SSU and the University of Jinan – Quancheng Institute. A special ceremony will be held for SSU President Ruben Armiñana and Mayor Yebao to sign a mutual Letter of Interest officially establishing an exploratory academic relationship between the schools.

“It will be a distinct honor for us to embark on this important collaboration,” said Ray Johnson, director of the Wine Business Institute at SSU. 

In 1995, SSU founded the Wine Business Institute, the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry. 

Located on the northeast coast of the historic Shandong province, Penglai has been one of China’s major grape-growing regions since the 1870s. In 2011, mutual interests in viticulture, winemaking and tourism instigated an official Sister City relationship between Sonoma and Penglai. SSU, located in the heart of California’s most valuable wine region, is ideally placed to offer an exchange of experts, students, instructors and ideas with the Quancheng Institute as it develops a training program for China’s wine business.

“It is exciting to see a partnership between these two schools and wine regions. The two regions have a lot in common and exchanging students and ideas will benefit both,” said Fred Cline, owner of Cline Cellars in Sonoma, who established Cline China in Penglai with the help of Hugh Zhang, business strategist in the emerging Chinese wine industry. 

Together they established contacts in the region, and in 2011 launched their wine sales and marketing business, paving the way for future interactions between the regions. 

Quancheng Institute is part of Jinan University and is authorized by China’s National education department and the government of Shandong province. It is an independent college offering undergraduate degrees and specialty studies. The institute’s intent is to develop a curriculum focused on the country’s wine business.

Cline Cellars is a family-owned and operated winery located in the Carneros District of Sonoma Valley. Established in 1982 by Fred and Nancy Cline, the winery is known for producing award-winning Rhône-style wines and Zinfandels. The winery is energy-independent, using high-capacity solar panels to generate power, and uses Green String Institute’s eco-friendly farming practices in its vineyards.  Fred and Nancy Cline own and manage vineyards in the Sonoma-Carneros region, Contra Costa County and the Petaluma Gap.

The signing ceremony will take place today at 9 a.m. in Salazar Hall Conference Room A on the SSU campus. 

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