LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A student-run wine brand that’s already raised over $35,000 in scholarship funds has partnered with a local winery for its latest product.
Bronconess was launched in October of 2019 by students in the Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy program at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
“How can we bring a product to Western Michigan that supports Western students and can be supported by Western alumni? And that answer was wine,” Bronconess student leader Sylvan Benton told CBS affiliate WWMT.
The students started out with three wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, a red wine blend and a white wine blend. All three could be purchased in more than 100 locations across Michigan, including at stores like Harding’s, Meijer and Trader Joe’s.
All profits are contributed to scholarships.
In February of this year, the students decided to partner with St. Julian, Michigan’s oldest and largest winery, to launch its latest product: Bronconess Peach Bubbly, a sparkling wine that’s a mixture of tropical passion fruit and peach juices.
Have you ever wondered if you can drink wine and support Western Michigan students at the same time? @LexieWWMT found the answer when she spoke with Bronconess, WMU's student-run wine brand.https://t.co/rMCqcFhUgP
— WWMT-TV (@wwmtnews) November 22, 2020
“We started out with the bubbly peach and that’s going to be well received in the market place because that’s a great product,” said John Braganini, President of St. Julian.
“Our partnership with St. Julian has really been mutually beneficial for the both of us. They’re able to expand their product line and we’re also able to learn from industry professionals,” says Bronconess Brand Director Robert Craig.
The students say the program gives them hands-on experience to set them up for future careers.
“The whole point of this project is to give students a story to tell at interviews, for internships and jobs, about their impact,” said Benton, who designed the Bronconess Peach Bubbly label.
Craig believes the program is unique among American colleges.
“I have not heard of any programs in the U.S. let alone the world that students have actually worked to release their own wine product,” he said. “This is education that honestly is above internship level experience.”
Benton said the program is giving out an additional $10,000 worth of scholarships to students who embodied what it’s like to be a Bronco and she’s hopeful for additional product launches in the future.