How do you create a purpose-driven brand that speaks to consumers and generates sales? That is the question that students in leadership and business strategy courses answered as they determined whether launching a cause-driven, micro-local wine in Michigan was feasible.

As part of their coursework in 2018, student teams analyzed whether a similar business model could apply to the wine category, appeal to those connected to Western Michigan University, and provide a meaningful philanthropic impact. The students looked at every aspect of introducing a new brand of wine to the marketplace, researching consumer profiles, the geographic footprint for distribution and what would differentiate this wine.

The point of differentiation was a question they worked on with the guidance of Drs. Derrick McIver and Doug Lepisto throughout the duration of the project. Students coined a new term, Bronconess, which captures the essence of how Broncos sustain their efforts when others might stop, and pursue ideas with courage and enthusiasm in the face of challenges.

The wine bears the name Bronconess, which represents not only the wine brand itself but also the broader concept of how Broncos put passion and purpose into their work.

Wine varieties and details

Four varieties of Bronconess are pictured.

Three out of four varieties of Bronconess are sourced from Tremonte Vineyard in Chile, which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Wine Blend and White Wine Blend. Tremonte has been a company site visit for a two-week business study abroad course in Chile in the past. Tremonte’s unique location keeps it completely isolated from harmful contaminant agents, and its focus is on producing expressive wines with as little mechanical and human interference as possible.

The fourth variety, Peach Bubbly, is sourced in collaboration with St. Julian Winery, which is the oldest and largest winery in Michigan. 

What can you expect from these vintages?

  • Bronconess Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Deep red in color with a dark core. Fervent character with full black fruit flavors, sweet undertones and firm tannins. A high-quality reserve wine with a unique expression of its boutique, hillside origin.

  • Bronconess Red Wine Blend: Deep ruby red color. Its aroma reminds us of spicy notes delivered by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that are softened by the red fruits delivered by Malbec. It has a good structure, with sweet harmonic tannins and a balanced acidity that makes it easy to drink. It is a wine that easily accompanies meats and pasta.

  • Bronconess Reserve White Blend: Fresh and crisp with good acidity. Aromas of lemon, lime and melon with flavors that jump right out of the glass. Ideal with shrimp cocktail, whitefish or grilled chicken.

  • Bronconess Peach Bubbly: Pale yellow color. Perfect for those that like sweeter styles of sparkling wine. Compliments seafood such as salmon, shellfish and calamari, as well as fruit-based or buttery desserts.

Bronconess is distributed by Imperial Beverage. One hundred percent of profits from the wine sales fund scholarships for leadership and business strategy students. Visit to learn where the wine is available for purchase. 

  • Bronconess logo.
  • St. Julian Winery logo.

The leadership and business strategy program

Leadership and business strategy is an experiential major in the Haworth College of Business that guides students in becoming effective leaders and problem solvers. Students work on challenging business issues for companies in a competitive and collaborative process as they analyze business problems and generate solutions. Bronconess is just one project that students have worked on. More than 100 students are engaged in the consulting process, and findings are distilled by a top team, selected by fellow students and faculty, that presents to company leadership.

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