One part of celebrating Juneteenth is acknowledgment.
Any celebration of wine and spirits history includes the history of colonization. Any celebration of American wine and spirits history includes our history of slavery. Despite the vast expanse of that history, Black-owned wineries were reported at less than 1% of US wineries as of 2020, whereas Black-owned spirits brands account for about 160 of the roughly 5,000 US brands registered last year. That’s slightly over 3%.
As we celebrate Black makers in remembrance of the long road to liberation, let us also take stock of the long road towards true diversity, equality, and inclusion still ahead. Please check out the list of sources and resources at the end of this article to learn more about inclusion in the wine and spirits industry, and follow the exciting voices elevating People of Color in the beverage world.
The story of how Robin and Andréa McBride reunited after half a lifetime apart is so unlikely it’s tempting to call it destiny. Though they grew up on separate continents (thankfully in Monterey, CA, and Marlborough, NZ — two of the globe’s most iconic wine regions) they each caught a passion for wine that brought them back together in adulthood. Now at the helm of the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, the McBride sisters marry the traditional sentiments of their early winemaking inspirations with forward-thinking style and sustainability.
Limited edition Black Girl Magic Bubbly Rosé
Ready for celebrating all summer long, Black Girl Magic Bubbly Rosé is a juicy but zippy, elevated pink wine in a can. Full of strawberry, watermelon, and mandarin orange cream, there’s a soft, fruity sweetness that floats effortlessly on its bouncy bubble.
Ten to One Rum
Looking beyond rum’s complicated and sometimes caricatured past (pirates, sea-beasts, etc) Ten to One founder Marc-Kwesi Farrell seeks to “challenge expectations and reinvigorate the way we taste, experience, and talk about rum.” With a focused and authentic style, refined but not exclusive, Ten to One Caribbean rums have a flavorful, energetic appeal that garners fandom from many spirits categories — rum, for sure, but also premium whiskey, vodka, and Cognac. Both rums are deliciously complex on the rocks and offer surprisingly versatile applications in your not-traditionally-rum cocktails.
Ten to One White Rum
A blend of high-proof traditional Dominican and aromatic pot still Jamaican rums with no added sugar, coming through with a beautiful texture and notes of citrus, honeysuckle, white pepper, and green banana, plus a compelling pop of tropical funk on the silky finish.
Try in a classic daiquiri, or sub in for an adventurous Cosmo or Caipirinha.
Ten to One Dark Rum
Precisely blended Jamaican, Trinidadian, Dominican, and 8-year-old Barbados rum aged in American Bourbon casks. If that sounds like a lot going on — wait ’til you taste it. Aromas of spiced banana bread, golden apple, toffee, and mint meet a structured but elegant body of cedar, vanilla, poached pear, leather, and orange oil.
Try in a Rum Manhattan, Rum Negroni, or a deliciously rich Dark & Stormy.
In Sheep’s Clothing
Sommelier, winemaker, and philanthrope André Mack is back with another crowd favorite! After breaking into winemaking on the Oregon Pinot side, André continues to explore partnership opportunities with other visionaries in the wine world to deliver wines of great character and accessibility for all kinds of wine-lovers. His latest Washington bottling is a little cheeky — big Cab flavor and elegantly balanced, but completely disinterested in the usual showboating. As stated on their sparse website, “To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.” Old School, beware.
‘In Sheep’s Clothing’ Washington Cabernet Sauvignon
Big ol’ blueberry, cassis, bay leaf, cracked peppercorn, and cedar are woven between a juicy fore-palate, fresh acid, and long, chocolatey tannins. Fruit is sourced from premier Red Mountain and Wahluke Slope AVA’s, aged after fermentation for 10 months in 25% new French oak — serious winemaking with zero brag.
Sun Goddess Wines
This is not the only celebrity-backed brand on our list, so let’s talk about the stigma. It’s true that several notable celebrity beverage brands amount to quickly-abandoned cash grabs of little character. The privileges of celebrity require no expertise, but while some celebs are flippant and barely involved in the genesis of their brands, some experience the genuine inspiration behind any good wine or spirits story.
Such is true of Mary J. Blige’s discovery of the sun-drenched vineyards farmed by the Fantinel family in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. A white wine lover throughout her career, Mary J. sought a high-quality Pinot Grigio of care and authenticity and found it in Marco Fantinel’s Ramato style. After extensive learning about Friuli terroir and tradition, Mary and Marco carefully crafted two wines that would perfectly express their joint visions.
Sun Goddess Ramato Pinot Grigio
Ramato is a classic style of what we would now call Italian orange wine, it’s brief fermentation in contact with the Pinot Grigio grape skins picking up expressive aromas, texture, and an orangy tint. The nose is brimming with apricot skins, persimmon, and ripe melon, the palate a racy mix of citrus, stone fruit, almond butter, and a round but peach-fuzzy texture you have to tase to believe.
Sun Goddess Sauvignon Blanc
An Italian Sauvignon Blanc seems left-field until you consider that Italy produces wines from over 300 grape varietals. The Fantinel family’s terroir produces Sauvignon Blanc of zesty aromas and enchanting minerality — green pineapple, Meyer lemon, kiwi, starfruit, and a zesty whiff of banana pepper, all on a surprisingly silky finish.
-Aimee Hutchinson | Wine Manager Top Ten Liquors