Feb 23, 2023
As Black History Month comes to a close, we're shining a spotlight on some of the taste makers and rule breakers within the wine industry who are constantly pushing the envelope in terms of innovation.
In this blog post, we're excited to showcase just a few of the individuals who are making a significant impact on the wine industry today. Through their relentless pursuit of excellence, these folks are breaking down barriers, challenging conventions, and creating some of the most innovative and impressive wines around. By sharing their stories and celebrating their achievements, we hope to inspire a new generation of wine enthusiasts and industry professionals, while also recognizing the vital role that the Black community has played in shaping the industry as we know it today.
1. Davidson Wine Co.
Davidson Wine Company is a hidden gem that you won't want to miss. Tucked away in the charming town of Davidson, North Carolina, this urban winery has been producing some of the most innovative and approachable wines since 2018. Instead of growing their own grapes, they import them from all over the world, including California, Italy, France, and Argentina, to create a unique range of wines that are sure to impress even the most discerning palate.
But that's not all that makes Davidson Wine Company stand out. Owner and founder Lindsey Williams is a trailblazer in the wine industry. As a Black woman in a predominantly white male-dominated industry, Williams is breaking barriers and paving the way for more diversity and inclusion. With less than 1% of wineries being owned by Black women, Williams is a symbol of hope and inspiration for those looking to follow in her footsteps. Her ownership of DWC is a step towards a more inclusive wine industry, and she's just getting started.
Whether you're a local or located across the country, you can enjoy the unique flavors of Davidson Wine Company's wines through their national shipping program. And for those looking for a more personalized experience, their City Sippers Wine Club offers curated selections of their award-winning wines, delivered right to your doorstep.
2. Alexis George Wines
Located in the heart of Lodi, California, Alexis George Wines is more than just a winery. Founded on a passion for quality wine, their commitment to community support is what sets them apart. From their award-winning wines to their dedication to making a positive impact by donating a portion of their proceeds to create scholarships and grants for students in underserved communities.
At Alexis George Wines, quality and diversity are key. With six unique wines in their offerings, there's truly a sip for everyone. From their velvety Pinot Noir to their bright and refreshing Chardonnay, each wine is crafted with care and attention to detail.
3. One Market San Francisco
It's no secret that San Francisco is a mecca for food lovers. With so many outstanding restaurants to choose from, standing out from the crowd is a major challenge. Yet, One Market manages to do just that. This renowned establishment has made a name for itself by consistently delivering an unparalleled dining experience to its guests.
To achieve this feat, One Market goes above and beyond in every aspect of its service. Of course, the food is exceptional, featuring high-quality ingredients and innovative culinary techniques. However, that's just the beginning— it's the restaurant's commitment to their wine menu that has us hooked.
With over two decades of experience in the food and beverage industry, Head Sommelier and Wine Director Tonya Pitts is a true veteran in her field.
Tonya's passion for the culinary arts led her to the Bay Area, where she pursued Fine Art studies. Her first job in San Francisco was at the renowned Zuni Cafe, where she worked with Chef Judy Rodgers. She also worked as a server for Chef Jeremiah Tower at Stars Restaurant. These experiences helped her refine her skills and deepen her knowledge of the industry.
Tonya's love for wine continued to grow, and after three years, she landed a job running the wine program at Bizou Restaurant, under the mentorship of Chef Loretta Keller. It was here that Tonya discovered her true passion for wine and began to hone her craft as a sommelier.
Today, Tonya is recognized as one of the top sommeliers in the industry, with a wealth of experience and knowledge. She has worked with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the country, and her expertise in wine has helped elevate the dining experiences of countless guests. While Tonya may have started out as an artist, her true passion lies in the world of wine, and she continues to inspire and delight with her exceptional skills and expertise.
4. The McBride Sisters
The McBride Sisters' story is one of serendipity and fate. Growing up amongst the vineyards of Monterey, California, and Marlborough, New Zealand, the sisters' grew up not knowing the other existed. Their paths had never crossed until a chance encounter brought them together later in life; and much like a modern-day take of 'The Parent Trap' the two quickly became best friends.
It was their shared love of wine that nurtured the McBride Sisters recconnection, and from there, the McBride Sisters Collection was born. Their diverse background and upbringing in two different wine regions gave them a unique perspective on winemaking, which is reflected in their exceptional wines.
Since its inception, the McBride Sisters Collection has not only become the largest Black-owned wine company in the US, but it has also become one of the most socially aware, sustainable, and inclusive brands in the industry. Their commitment to intersectionality is evident in every aspect of their business, from striving to make wine approachable and enjoyable for everyone— regardless of background or experience with wine, to prioritizing social awareness and giving back to their community through various initiatives and partnerships.
5. Corner 103
Corner 103 is a wine tasting room located on the historic Sonoma Square in California. The concept is straightforward - to share their passion for food and wine, and the Sonoma Valley lifestyle with guests. Founder Lloyd Davis aimed to celebrate the local bounty by creating elegant, award-winning wines and sharing delicious food prepared by local partners. The tasting room provides a warm and welcoming space for visitors to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life.
Davis's philosophy is to empower guests to become their own "wine experts." He believes that everyone knows what they like and don't like and too many people rely on their "wine expert" friends to tell them what is good. Lloyd wants his guests to understand that they don't need anyone to tell them what they like and don't like.
Corner 103 also takes pride in offering a one-of-a-kind wine and food tasting experience that is both informative and enjoyable. By appointment, guests are treated to a seated, intimate and unforgettable experience that is designed to make them feel comfortable and at ease.
The team at Corner 103 creates a welcoming environment where guests can learn about all aspects of their wines without feeling intimidated. Their goal is to help visitors understand the art of pairing wine with food and how to bring out the distinct flavor characteristics of each.
During the tasting, guests are guided through the nuances of each varietal and learn how wine should be tasted, what glass it should be served in, and the correct temperature to store and serve it. The experience is both educational and fun, making it the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Sonoma Valley.
6. Abbey Creek Winery
Bertony Faustin's remarkable story is one of resilience and perseverance, and serves as an inspiration to many. Born to Haitian-immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York, Faustin was determined to forge his own path in life from an early age. After the untimely death of his father, Faustin left his job as an anesthesia technician and embarked on a new journey. He made history by becoming the first recorded Black winemaker in Oregon, and opened Abbey Creek Vineyard.
Abbey Creek Winery, or "The Crick" as the locals call it, is not just another place to taste wine. It's a space that fosters a sense of community where visitors can relax, listen to music, and engage in conversations with others.
What sets Abbey Creek apart from other wineries is the perfect fusion of hip hop, wine, and laid-back atmosphere. With every sip and beat, the atmosphere becomes elevated, creating a unique and unforgettable experience that is both nostalgic and fresh. Faustin seamlessly blends the two worlds together, drawing from his Brooklyn roots and his North Plains, Oregon winery. Come and discover for yourself why Abbey Creek is the perfect blend of music, wine, and community - a feeling that Bertony likes to call "Hip Hop, Wine & Chill."
Learn more about Faustin and his journey in his award-winning documentary, Red White and Black.