As we start to look beyond the labels and look at what goes into our wines and who is producing our wines, the disparity of Black-owned wineries and Black winemakers becomes strikingly obvious. According to recent reports, Black-owned wineries currently make up just about a tenth of 1 percent of the entire industry. Perhaps it's because Blacks didn’t grow up around wine, or have a culture of winemaking. I was well into my adult years before I started drinking wine, and even later learning more about it and developing my palate. "African-American winemakers are a certified minority," says Phil Long, owner of Longevity Wines. "You can count them on one hand."
While the wine industry is still growing in terms of representation, the tide is quickly turning and there are plenty of brands emerging from the market that should be on your radar.
Here are some of our favorite wines from Black-owned wineries.
Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon
Created by winemaker Phil Long, Longevity Wines out of Livermore, California abides by the philosophy that "it is not just about the wines, but the experience." In other words, it's where you drink your wine and who you want to drink it with. While Longevity makes wines like grenache, petite sirah, and zinfandel, just to name a few, its cabernet sauvignon is the one we most want to sip on a cold winter's night by the fireplace. This full-bodied wine has bold flavors of dark fruits with notes of oak and anise on the finish.
Price at time of publish: $15
Region: California | ABV: 13.5% | Tasting Notes: Dark fruits, Oak, Anise
Maison Noir Knock On Wood Chardonnay
Starting at a desk job with Citicorp Investment Services, André Mack knew that there was something else out there for him. So he left the cushy desk job to dive into the wine industry. He worked as head sommelier of Per Se in NYC and later began making his own wine under the label Maison Noir. This chardonnay is all stainless steel, no oak, and made from grapes grown on a hillside vineyard in Oregon. Think melon and apple, with hints of minerality and citrus all poured into one bottle. It’s the chardonnay for those who don’t think they like chardonnay.
Price at time of publish: $29
Region: Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon | ABV: 13;2% | Tasting Notes: Melon, Apple, Citrus
McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Rosé
Half-sisters Robin and Andréa McBride founded the now largest Black-owned wine company in the US in 2005 and have been a force in the wine industry ever seen. Their Black Girl Magic Rosé is made from pinot noir grown on the cool hillsides of California's Santa Lucia Highlands. The sisters also founded a non-profit, the She Can Fund, which strives to close the gender and race gap in leadership positions in male-dominated industries.
Price at time of publish: $22
Region: Santa Lucia Highlands, Calif. | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: White flowers, Strawberry, Orange blossom
Maison Noir Horseshoes and Handgrenades
André Mack, owner of & Sons Ham Bar in NYC, scores another spot on this list with his Maison Noir’s Horseshoes and Handgrenades. Sarita Cheaves, producer of the wine podcast Swirl Suite, calls Mack a “prince among winemakers," noting that "he isn’t afraid to break barriers." Such a sentiment certainly applies to this wine, a blend of 64 percent syrah, 19 percent merlot, and 17 percent cabernet sauvignon, which is unique in its style, taste, and the fact that the grapes come from both Oregon and Washington. On the nose are rich, dark cherry notes with hints of leather, perfect for a hamburger or steak dinner.
Price at time of publish: $20
Region: Oregon / Washington | ABV: 13.5% | Tasting Notes: Dark cherry, Leather, Earth
Best from California
Brown Estate Zinfandel
Despite the healthy price tag, this isn't a celebrity-owned label or a luxe-oriented vanity project—it's just good, old-school Napa Valley zinfandel. The Brown family bought an old ranch in eastern Napa Valley four decades ago and began the project of rehabilitating its neglected vineyard. Today, they produce a number of single-vineyard zinfandels, as well as chardonnay, merlot, tempranillo, and cabernet sauvignon. Their flagship zinfandel, sourced from their own estate as well as several nearby sites, is richly textured and medium bodied, with plenty of fruit complimented by spicy floral notes.
Price at time of publish: $45
Region: Napa Valley, Calif. | ABV: 14.5% | Tasting Notes: Rose petals, Cedar, Allspice
Best After Dinner
Love Cork Screw Head Over Heels
The guests have moved away from the table, the dishes are being cleared, but the drinking is not yet done: it’s time to serve Head Over Heels Sweet Riesling. Love Cork Screw is the creation of entrepreneur Chrishon Lampley. She wanted wine to be fun and not intimidating, and was often hosting in-home wine tastings to familiarize others with her brand. With fun wine names such as Movin on Up and Touch the Sky, she’s definitely added her own touch to her wines and the industry. Head Over Heels is great paired with a dessert—or as the dessert itself! Sweet yet also soft is a great way to describe this wine.
Price at time of publish: $18
Region: Michigan | ABV: 11% | Tasting Notes: Lemon, Melon, Residual sugar
Best for a Gift
Theopolis Vineyards Petite Sirah
Theodora R. Lee (aka Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards) is originally from Texas, but is now bottling her own award-winning wines in Anderson Valley, California's Theopolis Vineyards. Established in 2003, the label received ratings of 94-96 points from Wine Critic Robert Parker for its first harvest in 2006! It was an amazing showing for a first harvest, and Theodora hasn’t slowed down since.
Her petite sirah is by far the most popular of her wines and tastes of raspberries, toasted oak, and even hints of cola. Gift this wine to someone who really enjoys red wines and is looking for something a bit different to enjoy now, or wait a few years, as this wine has great aging potential.
Price at time of publish: $39
Region: Yorkville Highlands, Calif. | ABV: 13.9% | Tasting Notes: Raspberries, Toasted Oak, Cola
Maker Bodkin Wines Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc
Maker is a wine purveyor that offers a range of small-production wines presented in single-serving cans. Their Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc comes from winemaker Chris Christensen of Bodkin Wines, and is crafted from grapes grown in northern California. Maker claims that award-winning winemaker Christensen has the distinction of being the first American to produce a sparkling sauvignon blanc.
Price at time of publish: $8
Region: Lake County, Calif. | ABV: 10% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Passionfruit, Acidity
Best Wine Club Option
Frichette Winery Punctual
A newcomer to the wine scene since her first vintage in 2011, Shae Frichette moved to Washington State with her husband Greg as the result of a coin toss. It wasn't until they arrived that they decided what they would do there: make wine. Their wines are available locally in the Pacific Northwest, at their tasting room on Red Mountain, or through their wine club membership, if you want to access their wines and you aren't local. The husband and wife co-owners now have eight different wines produced at Frichette Winery, but this Punctual blend won us over with its dark fruit flavors. Their website suggests pairing this blend with BBQ chicken, and we definitely agree.
Price at time of publish: varies
Region: Red Mountain, Washington | Tasting Notes: Blueberry Caramel, Baking spices
Chardonnay lovers will enjoy Maison Noir Knock On Wood Chardonnay (view at Drizly) from André Mack, while those looking for a good cabernet can't go wrong with Phil Long's Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon (view at Drizly).
What to Look for When Buying Wine
When looking for BIPOC winemakers and wines around the world, a few resources to consider are the Association of African American Vintners, the list above (of course), and wine websites like Drizly that have sections for brand ownership and can be searched by Black-owned.
Take note of where the wine is from—is it a cool climate region (ex: New Zealand, Oregon) or warm climate region (ex: California, Argentina). This will determine some of the aroma and tasting notes of a wine. Cool climate wines typically have higher acidity and lower alcohol, whereas warmer climate wines have lower acidity and higher alcohol.
The style of a wine mainly refers to the "body" or "weight" of a wine. How does the wine feel in your mouth? Is it light, medium, or full-bodied? These differences are important to note for personal preference and food pairings, as a light flaky fish won’t pair well with a full-bodied red Syrah.
What percentage of wineries are Black-owned?
In 2020, Bloomberg reported that just 0. 1 percent of U.S. winemakers and brand owners are Black. A 2019 survey by SevenFifty of 3,100 industry professionals found that only 2 percent identify as Black.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Tanisha Townsend is a wine educator, podcaster, and writer currently living her wine life in Paris, France. She can regularly be found wandering through a French vineyard or drinking wine with friends and colleagues to bring you the best selection of wines from Black-owned wine brands.
McCoy, E. Just 0.1% of U.S. winemakers are Black. Here’s how to fix that. Bloomberg.
Birch, G. and Tometich, A. Celebrating Black-owned wineries and Black winemakers, a true rarity in the world of wine. The News-Press.