Black Winemakers Report Boom in Sales—Here’s How to Keep It Going
From crisp Sauvignon Blanc to rich Cabernets, you’ll feel great about ordering these wines
Ed Note: For our upcoming Summer issue, we asked notable winemakers for predictions on the upcoming year. Winemaker Theodora Lee of Theopolis Vineyards offered these thoughts, touching on not only the impact of Covid-19 but the experience she and other Black winemakers have had during the past few weeks. Her message: The support has been wonderful—but let’s keep it going!
Scroll down for links to purchase wines from Theo and other Black winemakers directly.
The Winemaker: Theodora Lee, founder of Theopolis Vineyards and winner of multiple gold medals in the Sunset International Wine Competition for her Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.
The Predictions: The future of wine is bright for those who are nimble and fully embrace direct-to-consumer marketing. I’ve always considered myself a mobile and digital winery. During shelter-in-place, virtual tastings and seminars with wine journalists and wine shops have truly helped me grow my business.
Recently, I participated in one with about 300 people on Zoom and Facebook Live. Those people didn’t know me before. But afterward, they bought my wine. It has just been wonderful. Our business model has never been based on tasting room sales. However, I do have a funky little tasting room that’s open during our annual harvest and bottle release party. Even though the State of California has allowed tasting rooms to open, I am cancelling the harvest party this year. Until there’s a vaccine, there’s a risk. I’m not willing to risk the lives of my customers.
Our wine sales have doubled, and on Blackout Tuesday, sales skyrocketed even more as there was a social media movement to support Black businesses. Since then, I have processed more than 300 orders. My fellow Black winemakers and I have received tremendous support. New wine lovers are discovering the love, compassion, and dedication we give to each and every order we have been blessed to receive.
The wine industry as a whole has a real opportunity to create systemic change, to serve as a catalyst to promote justice and equality. The BLM movement isn’t just about the Black community, it’s about everyone. We all eat and drink good wine. What better way to have a conversation about racism than to sit and break bread together? Let’s hope this is not just a moment, but a movement.
Theopolis Vineyards makes two Sunset International Wine Competition Gold Award Winning Wines. Try the Pinot Noir, which offers ripe, red fruits and subtle, spicy oak flavors, or the Petite Sirah, which boasts blue fruits and dark chocolate notes.
Brown Estate, founded in 1980 in the Eastern hills of Napa Valley, specializes in red wines—including this red blend of Zinfandel and Cab initially created for the annual Premiere Napa Valley Auction. You’ll find passionfruit and guava notes with a plush mouthfeel.
Domaine Curry, a partnership between Bay Area chef and personality Ayesha Curry and her sister-in-law, Sydel (Stephen Curry’s sibling) offers a lovely Sauvignon Blanc and formidable Cabernet Sauvignon that stands among some of the heavy hitters in the Napa Valley. While click-to-buy options are not available, click here to download an order form.