With more than 8,000 wineries located within the United States, less than 5 percent are Black-owned. Although the number is small in comparison, Black winemakers are steadily increasing and beginning to join forces as a branded commodity. In 2002, the Association of African American Vintners was created to showcase and establish mutual support among vintners. Read on to learn more about some of the country’s premier Black-owned wineries and vineyards varying from the California coast to the Virginia countryside.
The dynamic sister duo, Robin and Andrea McBride, have been in the wine industry for more than a decade and are the first Black sisters to establish their own wine company, eco. love Wines. After growing up in different countries and meeting each other for the first time in 1999, they embarked on a journey transcending beyond sisterhood, creating a staple within the new generation of wine makers. The company was built on the foundation of providing exquisite wines with minimal environmental impact at a price point everyone can enjoy. Truvée Wines is the sisters’ latest venture, inspired by their personal story of discovery, friendship and sisterhood.
The Brown Estate is a family-owned and operated winery located in Napa Valley. The sibling team consisting of Coral, David and Deneen Brown are responsible for producing quality wines and upholding the family legacy. The company’s winemaking philosophy of purity is reflective in their various wine selections, consisting of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. This year not only marks the Brown Estate’s 20th anniversary, it’s also their 35th anniversary in Napa Valley.
The world-renowned Esterlina Vineyards is a family-owned, California winery, specializing in Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignon. Esterlina is known for producing stellar wines in limited quantities with grapes grown from their very own vineyard. Each wine is created in three various appellations, bottle by bottle. Additionally, the smallest AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the country, Cole Ranch, is exclusively owned and operated by Esterlina.
Theopolis Vineyards was founded in 2003 by Theodora Lee, known to many in the wine world as Theo-patra, Queen of the vineyards. Located in California’s Yorkville Highlands of Anderson Valley, the small vineyard has received rave reviews from distinguished wine critic, Robert Parker. Not to mention, Lee has recently begun bottling and distributing her wine with the release of Petite Sirah and Symphony, a white wine combination between Muscat and Grenache Gris.
Specializing in Pinot Noir, Vision Cellars was established in 1995 by owner and winemaker Mac MacDonald. As the co-founder of the Association of African American Vintners, MacDonald has become a very well respected and influential figure within the Black wine industry. The Pinot Noir wines are produced from a variety of vineyards throughout California, including Ms. Lil’s Vineyard, which is one of Vision Cellars’ newest venture.
Known for wines specifically highlighting Rhône varietals, Rideau Vineyard was founded in 1997 by New Orleans native of Creole descent, Iris Rideau, the first Black female winery owner in the United States. Throughout the years, she has attracted wine enthusiasts from around the world to attend winery events that offer Creole cuisine paired with a specific Rhône varietal. The vineyard, located in Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley, offers a tasting room, open to the public.
Husband-and-wife duo, Vance and Monika Sharp, founded the Sonoma Valley winery, Sharp Cellars, after retiring in 1997. Although, Sharp Cellars’ production is extremely limited, it has been awarded prestigious honors including the Double Gold Medal and Best of Class awarded by the Taster’s Guild Consumer Wine Judging. Sharp Cellars is the first Black-owned winery to receive such a prestigious honor.
Wisdom Oak Winery
Formerly known as Sugarleaf Vineyards, it was the only Black-owned and operated winery on the East Coast, located along the Virginia countryside in Monticello for many years. After a rebranding in 2013, the estate was renamed Wisdom Oak Winery with Jerry Bias as the driving force behind the operation. He is considered a pioneer of the East Coast concept, creating a boutique winery specializing in hand- crafted artisan wines.
Black Coyote Chateau Winery
Specializing in rare, one-of-a-kind wines, the Black Coyote Chateau Winery is considered a premier winery in Napa Valley. It has been in existence since 2000 and not only produces wines but also offers a wide range of events including grape stomping throughout the year. These events allow wine-lovers the opportunity to experience culture, gain extensive knowledge and taste-test some of the signature wines of Black Coyote. Serving as a top-rated neurosurgeon and as one of the founding members of the Association of African American Vintners, Dr. Ernest Bates and three additional partners were the creators of the winery estate.