Black Winemakers Report Boom In Sales Here's How To Keep It Going

Posted: Jun 22, 2020

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 canceling 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.

By Matt Bean
June 19, 2020
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