In Vino Veritas . For those underage, this Latin phrase means “In wine, there is truth.”
During the recessionary 2009 economy, California vintners shipped 467.7 million gallons (196.7 million cases) of California wine to the U.S. wine market in 2009, up a modest 0.2% compared to the previous year’s volume. The estimated retail value of these sales was $17.9 billion, down 3% from 2008 as consumers traded down to lower-priced wines, according to wine industry consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside.
Wine is a beverage that takes time and patience to perfect, and oenophiles enjoy using flowery language to describe the various tastes associated with the different vintages of wine offered at vineyards after days of precise preparations has finally culminated in a product worthy of being sold.
For thousands of years, vintners have perfected wine making and turned it into an art form. All over the world people enjoy tasting wine, grading it for its taste, boldness and enjoyable smell, while many more have merely enjoyed the wonderful feeling that two or three glasses (or bottles) grants them.
Though people have enjoyed wine since the time of the Ancient Greeks, one ingredient has been missing that dares bring an entire industry and way of life to its knees – precious few Black vintners and vineyard owners:
Will a lack of diversity hurt the winemaking industry in the future?
Hey wine lovers and winemakers – Let me tell you a little about you.
Chances are, you’re white. Or, I should say, chances are you’re not black – especially if you’re a winemaker in the U.S.
In fact, if you’re an American winery owner, there is a 99.9% chance that you’re not black, because African American winery owners represent roughly 1/1000th of the total number of wineries in the U.S. That’s a staggering misalignment with the diversity of the American population. If American winemakers held a dance party tomorrow, it would be a clinic in the world’s worst overbite-sporting dance floor moves, because it would be lilywhite…
About this time last year, NPR ran a radio piece with then AAAV head and Esterlina Vineyards co-owner Stephen Sterling. It seems that in the year since that interview took place, there hasn’t been a great deal of forward momentum for the black winemaking and wine appreciation community. Speaking from personal experience, I’m starting to lament the homogeneousness of – and general lack of diversity in the wine business in general.
Which could be exactly what the wine word doesn’t need right now. Why? Because the people buying fine wine in the U.S. are no longer rich white people. There is a growing population of affluent ethnic minority consumers who are becoming wine buyers. Which means that U.S. winemakers, as a poorly diverse group, are well positioned to lose more customers , since it’s a long-established notion that diversity is good for business, increasing customers. market share, and overall profit, while lack of diversity does has the opposite effect on businesses.
Though citizens of the United States and the world over already consume vast amounts of the inebriate known as wine, the realization that those cultivating the grape and bringing it to delectable alcoholic maturation are almost all white is an emergency greater than the one that befuddles the world of architecture.
That so precious few Black hands and intellect have gone into the production of the glass of wine or bottle resting comfortably in ice before you is a cause f or awarding billions in tax payer dollars to Black farmers to that they actually might go out and attempt to produce a crop or two.
Black people have yet to have the taste of wine “cultivated” into their dietary habits, according to numerous Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) who find the notion that Black people aren’t interested in sharing their hobby of sipping and sampliong wine with effeminate individuals while talking about the fine arts (with classical music playing in the background) a gross injustice of the wine industry itself:
Mac McDonald of Windsor is an anomaly. He is an African American who drinks wine every evening with dinner. And he is one of seven black vintners in a state with 900 wineriesAfrican Americans are under-represented both in wine-making and in wine- drinking. Now McDonald and a handful of other black vintners are trying to raise their profile and also reach out to a group that has historically been ignored by wine marketers.
“My idea is to help others appreciate wine,” says McDonald, the son of an East Texas moonshiner and the maker of an award-winning Pinot Noir. “If they appreciate it, they will buy it.”
The Association of African American Vintners is still in its infant stages. Four winemakers joined at the first meeting in November and a Wine Country publicist, Jo Diaz, has signed on as executive director.
Fewer black Americans than any other major U.S. ethnic group consume table wine. Just 25.8 percent drink domestic table wine, compared to 34.3 percent of whites, 32.2 percent of Hispanics and 28.8 percent of Asians, according to Adams Wine Handbook 2002.
Blacks also rank last when it comes to drinking imported wine, but first in wine coolers, sparkling wines and dessert wines.
“I’ve never seen any (wine) advertising or marketing directed at African Americans,” says Tony Harris, vice president of Calpine Corp. and a member of Private Reserves, an African American wine tasting group in the East Bay. “This is clearly a missed opportunity.”
Viticulture and winemaking is an avocation and vocation passed down through the generations and the disconnect that DWLs have with both history and reality is stunningly on display when they bemoan the lack of Black people involved in any facet of the wine industry.
In South Africa, a country that exports more than 400 million liters of wine a year, the lack of Black vintners is only now becoming a cause for concern:
In the South African wine industry Ntsiki Biyela is something of a rarity. The country’s first black female winemaker when she started out six years ago, Biyela has established herself as an award-winning vintner.
Biyela grew up in KwaZulu Natal, 800 miles from the vineyards of Stellenbosch where she now practices her craft.
She had never even tasted wine before she enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch on a scholarship, but it was there that Biyela earned a degree in oenology — the science and study of wine.
One can only speculate how she got into that school to study wine…
Opening up new markets is always the goal of any company trying to maintain a healthy cash flow, but most people understand that trying to get new customers is much more costly then placating steady customers:
Just 10 percent of the adult population — the 19.2 million people who drink wine at least once a week — account for 86 percent of the table wine consumed in the United States, according to a study in 2000 by the Wine Market Council.
That the wine industry is awash in cash, no thanks to the parting of Black people with their money, is cause for a national debate on whether this beverage should even be produced. If it isn’t marketed to Black people, then it shouldn’t be allowed to exist (unless it’s Newport cigarettes, which are being sold FOR targeting Black people).
Something tells us that the wine industry will continue to produce exciting yields of grapes and massive profits without the integration of Black people into a vocation that requires time, patience and years of practice to perfect a suitable vintage worthy of appearing in Wine Spectator .
If Black people were truly going to practice “buying Black” (about as easy to do as Americans buying American), then wine would be scarcely allowed at the table. Much like in another nation(s), the farm land owned by vintners will one day be redistributed so that Black peopl e can partake in the art of cultivating grapes into wine.
After all, we saw how well the “breadbasket of Africa” turned out once the farmlands changed hands.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes In Vino Veritas , because drinking wine is seen as an ultimate expression of acting white. That Black people are grossly underrepresented in the process of creating wine is a crime to DWLs that can only be remedied with the swift redistribution of vineyards from one property owner to another with the correct level of melanin.
Then they can enjoy their glass of wine knowing that no white hands had a part in the viticulture process.