Giving Back: The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation

Giving back to the wine and culinary communities

When completed, the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University will serve the 600 students studying each year at the Wine Business Institute, providing more than 14,500 square feet of space for instruction and student activities.

The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, founded in 1982, was created to support educational institutions and philanthropic organizations that assist people in becoming part of the wine and hospitality industries.

The foundation’s principal source of support is the Wine Experience; all net proceeds from this annual event are devoted to the foundation, and as of 2016, more than $20 million has been raised, thanks to the generosity of the participating vintners and attendees of the event.

“If you were to ask me what am I most proud of over these 40-plus years, the answer would be simple,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator and chairman of its parent company, M. Shanken Communications. “From the very early days, we wanted to give back. Charity and charitable events are an integral part of our company’s culture.”

Most recently, the foundation granted $3 million to fund the Wine Spectator Learning Center at the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University in California. Groundbreaking on the $9.15 million facility—which will provide space for classrooms, student activities, faculty and professional collaborations—took place in June 2016.

“It’s a special privilege to be able to work with such a great institution as Sonoma State,” said Shanken. “The future needs and depends on institutions like this one to train and educate people to go into the wine industry.”

The University of California at Davis has received $3.6 million over many years for scholarships and research grants to students at the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Many of the recipients have gone on to become leading winemakers in California and Washington.


Florida International University received $1 million to support the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, aimed at giving students practical experience and access to the latest technology and equipment.

The Culinary Institute of America has received two major grants: $1 million for the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at its Napa Valley campus, and $130,000 to the Hyde Park, N.Y., campus for the Wine Spectator Tasting Room.

The University of California at Berkeley has been awarded $394,000 for conducting and recording interviews with 62 winemakers and prominent scholars in the field of wine, to preserve historical information and memories as part of the Bancroft Library’s California Wine Pioneers Oral History Series.

The foundation’s many beneficiaries also include: Cornell University, for a scholarship endowment at the School of Hotel Administration; University of Miami, for a scholarship for wine journalism at the School of Communication; the Society of Wine Educators; the American Institute of Wine and Food; the James Beard Foundation; and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

Watch video: Wine Spectator's educational mission

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