Bronconess wine brand partners with St. Julian, expands philanthropic impact

Contact: Stacey Anderson

Bronconess student leaders Sylvan Benton, left, and Tyler Earnst, right, display some of the brand's wines.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Break out the bubbly. Western Michigan University's student-run wine brand, launched a year ago by the Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy in the Haworth College of Business, collaborated with St. Julian Winery for its newest product: Bronconess Peach Bubbly. 

Launched during WMU's Homecoming in 2019, Bronconess employs a philanthropic enterprise model with 100% of profits going to student scholarships. The student team behind the brand has proven the concept that alumni and community members will embrace a great product with a great mission. To date, they've raised more than $35,000 to help students attain their educational goals.

The partnership with St. Julian, Michigan's oldest and largest winery, aims to maintain brand momentum and ensure future scholarship funding through the release Bronconess Peach Bubbly, available for purchase online. The sparkling wine's tropical passion fruit and peach juices blend together to pack a celebratory flavor—perfect for opening after a Bronco football win or during holiday celebrations. The brand also continues to sell its three initial products, a white blend, red blend and cabernet sauvignon, in a variety of stores including Harding's, Meijer and Trader Joe's. A complete list of locations is available on the Bronconess website.

The name of the wine derives from how students working on the project envision the identity of WMU students and alumni. "Bronconess is about a mindset of courage and enthusiasm in challenging situations," says Sylvan Benton, student team leader.

A Bronconess wine bottle resting on a rock in front of the Bronco statue.

The success of the initiative is in the mutual benefit it creates for all stakeholders. "The Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy believes that the path to purpose and profit is found in creating value for others. It's a great feeling to work on a brand with the goal of supporting students that exemplify servant leadership," says Tyler Earnst, student team leader.

Bronconess offers students critical experience in everything from logistics to collaboration to marketing, and that ensures preparation for the job market.

"In the leadership and business strategy program, we say experience is our best teacher," says Dr. Derrick McIver, associate professor of management and co-director of the Center for Principled Leadership and Business Strategy. "Bronconess provides a special opportunity for our students to learn by running a real wine brand. And when their learning benefits future students, the learning becomes that much more memorable and impactful."

Learn more about Bronconess and the St. Julian partnership in a podcast with student leaders.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.