By Hamzat Sani, Special to the AFRO
Grab your casks, stemware and botas because today is National Wine Day. Throughout the country sommeliers, vineyards and wineries celebrate the sweet nectar on May 25.
While D.C. isn’t much known for vineyards and wineries, it is a city that knows a thing or two about it’s Champagne, Rose and Moscato. Even the drafter’s of our Constitution knew the importance of capping off establishing a country by celebrating with 55 Bottles of Madeira and 60 bottles of Bordeaux.
If you are one of those that can sniff out a premium port from your pedestrian wine-in-a-box then you will want to get familiar with the wines featured by Soul of Sonoma (SoS) while you celebrate with a glass this weekend. While many might not know that wine has held high placement on palettes since the Egyptians used it for their ceremonies, Soul of Sonoma is bringing awareness about the role premium wine plays in the Black community. President and CEO Patrice Davenport took time away from planning Soul of Sonoma on the Vineyard in historic Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard to chat with the AFRO about buying Black wine, Black wine at the White House and her recommendations for this weekend.
For those looking to support Black businesses in the local wine industry, Davenport shouted out Bin 1301 as a go to. “One of the places we are going to gather is at Bin 1301 Wine Bar which is in the Shaw area, it is a Black-owned wine bar which is one of the venues … where we will have a wine hour.” The venue on Historic U Street, features a full wine menu with Reds, Vermouths and Sherry from Spain to Columbia Valley, Washington.
As far as suggestions of what wine to bring to your friends all white affair this weekend; Davenport suggests scooping up a bottle of Zinfandel from the Black-owned vineyard Brown Estates from your local place of spirits. “They’ve done an excellent job marketing and succession planning with their next generation, the kids.” Succession planning is significant because many Black-owned wine businesses don’t seem to last long in the challenging world of wine. Davenport told the AFRO that while wine made by African-Americans has been served in the Obama White House, only one of those companies still exists. “It’s always a challenge when you are really good at doing something … they have an awareness-challenge and ability to scale.” Many vineyards and wineries also face financing woes: running out of stock and having fallen victim to bank seizures, despite accolades and premium product. All the more reason to make sure that this season when you are tipping your glass, you make sure that your wine was made by Black hands.