The wine world has a problem. It’s too white. Like starkly white. The US has very few black-owned wineries or wines made by the hands of black winemakers. In addition, there are only a small amount of black wine professionals in positions of leadership in wine sales and marketing. This is a layered problem that is going to take some time and work to dismantle.
My “why” in the world of wine is simple: I strive for people to have fun with wine. In whatever way I am communicating, my goals are to help people drink better and up their wine game. With that being said, I am trying to do my part in diversifying the wine space and making room for the black/BIPOC community.
Sips With Soul: Black-Owned Wineries
A few weeks ago, I attended an online tasting benefit that supported MoAD-SF (Museum of African Diaspora), the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the ACLU of Northern California. This tasting was put on by Master Sommelier David Glancy and his well-respected San Francisco Wine School. The event featured black-owner wineries, black winemakers, and black sommeliers. It was quite the event! Very well done, and enabled each participant to try samples from 12 black-owned wineries. The wines were stellar and the format allowed us to connect with the stories behind the wines.
Spread the Word
Highlighting black-owned businesses is key. When I am given a wine sampling opportunity, interview opportunity, or a press trip invitation, I confirm that the PR firm has invited BIPOC wine professionals. As a result, I have been using Julia Coney’s Black Wine Professionals website as a resource for finding those professionals (i.e. writers, sommeliers, educators, consultants, etc).
Below is a listing of black-owned wineries. Going back to my tenet of supporting black-owned businesses. This list focuses on wineries both here in the US as well as internationally. Certainly, if I have missed one, please contact me and I will get them added to this page.
Buy From a Black-Owned Winery
Try a wine from a black-owned winery in your area. You could even order online from another state or across the world! I encourage you to seek out and try these wines. If you like them, make a purchase! In addition, consider swapping out one of your wine clubs and joining one of these clubs instead. Wine club income is passive and a great way to support a black-owned business. In no particular order, I recommend trying from these 12 black-owned wineries!
Artie Johnson’s inspiration to make wine was that he wanted creativity in his life. Before making his own wines in California, he was working at other wineries and executing someone else’s vision. This label name is a combination of his name, his kid’s names, and his wife’s name.
Chris Lyons is making Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian wine from the Emilia-Romagna region. This wine is spectacular. One of the standouts from the tasting, and is currently available for pre-order.
Maison Noir Wines was founded in 2007 with the cool André Hueston Mack at the helm. The brand (and the wines) are exciting, dynamic, and unbuttoned. These aren’t your grandma’s wines! Two of his most popular wines include Other People’s Pinot Noir (O.P.P.) and Love Drunk Rosé, to give you a sense of the vibe André is going for. There is not one ounce of pretension, but it is some good juice. I recently recommended Andre’s wines in an article for HuffPost.
Vision Cellars is one of the OG black-owned wineries in California. I first met owner and winemaker, Mac McDonald, at a food & wine pairing dinner in Los Angeles featuring his wines. He showed up in overalls and a straw hat. I was hooked. I then tried his Pinot Noirs and have never looked back.
Near the border of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, you will find Theopolis Vineyards, with Theodora Lee at the helm. Theodora was a lawyer in a past life and is now owner and winemaker at Theopolis. Her Petite Sirah is a standout and has stacked up more medals than she can count. I recently recommended Theodora’s wines in an article for HuffPost.
Frichette Winery is a family-owned limited production winery crafting wines that showcase the best of the Red Mountain AVA in Washington. I had the pleasure of visiting Red Mountain during the Wine Media Conference in 2019.
In 1980 Deneen, David, and Coral Brown’s parents purchased an abandoned ranch in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley. They rehabilitated the crumbling homestead and planted viniferous grapes — which for a decade they farmed and sold to local winemakers. In 1995 the kids decided to make their own wine!
Bump City Wine Co: where the wine is as smooth as the music! Started by Tower of Power keyboardist Roger Smith, Bump City Wine Co. is a culmination of his passion for music, love of wine, and the joy that comes when they are shared.
Dan and Kim Johnson transformed a walnut orchard in Napa into vineyards in 2006. Today they produce 300 cases annually and only sell their wines online and over the phone.
Where handcrafted wine and jazz meet! Louis and Lynda Brown planted vines and are handcrafting wine in Healdsburg. For the Sips with Soul event, we enjoyed the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and it was out of this world!
High quality, handcrafted, small lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from top Napa Valley appellations. Everything is crafted by hand, then patiently vinified in separate single-vineyard blocks and barrel lots in limited quantities, with production steadily increasing each year.
Jon Larson’s story starts in Angwin. He grew up in Angwin and attended Saint Helena High School, but left home to attend college, medical school, and residency. While in training in Las Vegas he met his wife Angela. As they moved around the United States pursuing careers in anesthesia and surgery, they dreamed of the day when they could return to Jon’s home on top of Howell Mountain and produce wine of their own. That they did. Their Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain was otherworldly. Intense and elegant. It was described as “power without weight” and I could not agree more.
If this doesn’t make you want to try some of these black-owned wineries, I don’t know what will! Please seek out, try, and buy these wines to help these businesses survive and THRIVE.
My commitment to diversity is strong and is coming from a place deep inside me. Consequently, I have added a “diversity” tab to my website. Here you can read about my commitment to diversity and the tangible way I am choosing to weave this into my business (more below). On this tab, you will also see a list (broken down by country and state) of black-owned wineries. Most importantly this list includes links to all of these businesses. Please visit this page to learn more and perhaps discover your next favorite black-owned winery.
Virtual Wine Tasting Party
In the spirit of giving back, which is a value that my grandmother worked so hard to instill in me, I am donating 10% of proceeds from ALL of my Virtual Vino online tastings to Wine Unify.
According to Wine Unify, obstacles to wine education include funding, mentorship, and/or a general feeling of exclusion. Their sponsored funding initiatives for underrepresented minorities intended to:
- Firstly, WELCOME those who have an interest in wine but do not currently work in the field.
- Secondly, ELEVATE and support the careers of existing wine industry professionals of color who seek further education.
- In addition, AMPLIFY the diverse voices of professionals, who are they themselves underrepresented minorities, that currently exist within the wine industry.
In conclusion, if you’d like to donate to Wine Unify, please click here or consider booking a virtual wine tasting with me. 10% of the proceeds from my Virtual Vino tastings will go back to Wine Unify.