“Cakebread University,” as the introductory program offered by the vineyard is known, is not just a party school where the wine quite literally flows like water. For part of their days at the elite academy, the HBS students were forced to labor over hot open flames in a series of gourmet cooking classes. The students also received serious career advice from a host of wine industry experts, who did their best to impart the timeless moral that there is more than one way to become a millionaire. The grueling final assignment of Cakebread University asked the students to blend their own wines, name their concoction and then define how they would market the product. “There is a lot of thought that goes into the wine industry, in every step of the process,” says Robinson.
Five years ago, Jack Cakebread, the founder of Cakebread Cellars, began traveling to different schools such as Harvard, Yale and Duke, pitching the wine industry. He recently decided to cut back on his travel miles and have the business school students come to him; Harvard was his test case. “Jack’s idea is to get new talent from the schools [to stay competitive],” says Punwani. “With the consolidation of liquor companies, the family vineyards [like Cakebread’s] are afraid they will be gobbled up.”
For these aspiring businessmen and women, Cakebread’s hands-on approach to introducing the wine industry was the major selling point. “It’s rare to get so much exposure to a CEO,” says Punwani. It’s also rare to have that much exposure to all the free wine one could possibly drink, but FM would never suggest that this had anything to do with amplifying the experience (burp).