Published: Dec. 9, 2019

Hospitality Business students shine at Intercollegiate Wine Business Invitational

By: Matt Stando

This November marked the second annual Intercollegiate Wine Business Invitational, a competition for students specializing in hospitality business. The competition, hosted by Wine Business Education, tasks teams from different universities with developing a new wine, including the business model, financial plan and branding of the wine itself.

The team took first place in the “best label” category after earning a perfect score for their original “Lighthouse” wine label.

Broad’s hospitality business program has won a category in both years. In 2018, they won “best business plan,” and in this year’s competition they won “best label” and earned an honorable mention for “business plan.”

This year’s team was comprised of seven students led by captain Lauren Levinson, a senior studying hospitality business.

“As someone who usually does not take on leadership roles, this experience was extremely rewarding and eye-opening for me,” Levinson said. “This project helped me not only understand the complexity of producing, distributing and selling wine but also allowed me to appreciate the time and energy it takes to do proper research.”

The team’s winning label design was for a pinot grigio from a Michigan-based winery called Lighthouse. Levinson explained the decision as an effort to play on the established quality and reputability of local Michigan wineries.

“The northern region of Michigan is known for light-bodied white wines,” she said. “We decided to take it up a notch and incorporate bio-dynamic winemaking, a holistic viticulture technique, into our business plan to introduce new wine trends to make us stand apart from our competition.”

When looking at the winemaking process, Levinson and her team decided to take a sustainable approach.

“We focused on winemaking and its relationship to nature, such as how to create a responsible and sustainable wine, its impact on the environment and how to support other local wineries that want to embrace a similar practice,” she said.

The team was assisted by Allan Sherwin, a Dr. Lewis J. and Mrs. Ruth E. Minor chef-professor of Culinary Management; Michael McCall, NAMA endowed professor of Hospitality Business; and Ronald Perry, professor emeritus of the MSU Extension, who instructs a horticulture class on wine production and history.

“I believe the greatest asset to our team was our advisers; they attended every meeting and were fully supportive every step of the way,” Levinson said.