Cellar Chats

Highlighting Black-Owned Wine Brands and Black Winemakers

February 16, 2022

Written By Coravin

Credited with being the first black winemaker in the United States, John June Lewis, Sr., opened Woburn Winery in Clarksville, Virginia, back in 1940 – over 100 years after mass production of wine began in the U.S. and just a few years after prohibition ended. 

Lewis was the son of a slave owner and Confederate veteran. The land he built Woburn Winery on was deeded to him by his father shortly after prohibition ended. In 1933, he started growing grapes and by 1940 he was selling table wine solely made from his own Lambrusco and hybrid grapes. His love for winemaking – which he learned from his father – really developed during WWI when he served in the American Army of Occupation in the Rhine Valley.

The winery closed in the 1970s after Lewis’ death.

Back in 1940, there were around 1,000 wineries in the U.S. By 1970, that number actually decreased due to a number of post-prohibition factors. Today, even though there are over 12,000 wineries spread out across the country, only 1% of them are black-owned.

Black winemakers share their experiences

“One of the hardest things to do in this world is to make a living as an artist,” shared Artie Johnson, founder of Wine XYZ. Artie labels himself 1% winemaker and 99% artist. After years in the food and wine industry, a career that took him to Houston, Austin, New York City, Miami Beach, and beyond, he now finds himself in Napa producing his own wine, Le Artishasic – which we carry on the Coravin Wine Shop

In our interview with Artie, he shares what it was like to navigate the world of winemaking – regardless of race or gender. “You get in it, you’re all eager, and you want to change the world, then you realize that everything you do day-by-day is what’s going to put you where you want to be 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years from now.” He adds, “It’s a form of patience and understanding that [wine is] a generational business. It takes so long to do things because you need a lot of capital, you need the patience, and, the funniest thing is… let’s take the 2021 vintage: you have that wine, you waited 4 years to get it bottled, you take it to market, and the client [asks], ‘Do you have anything older?’”

A mentor told Artie, “The wine business is a very, very slow business,” – a pain point many of our partners echo. Because of this, many black winemakers are only just starting to make their mark on the industry.

One of those individuals making a mark is Marvina Johnson, founder and winemaker behind B.Stuyvesant Champagne. “I never realized that I would get the title of being one of the few African American women owning a champagne [business], but here we are."

marvina robinson wine

Behind the Wine with Marvina Robinson

Marvina adds, “The wine industry is not diverse [when it comes to] African Americans. The wine industry is not diverse with women. I want to show people who are younger or who are thinking, ‘I think I want to do this,’ that it can be done.”

Representation matters when it comes to closing gaps in the wine world. For that reason, Coravin is committed to adding more and more black-owned (and women-owned) wineries to the Coravin Wine Shop. Below are some of the amazing wines you can shop now.

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The Coravin Wine Shop offers a broad selection of time-honored labels as well as a collection of highly sought after and allocated bottles curated by in house wine experts and resident sommeliers.

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11 Black-owned wines on the Coravin Wine shop

By combining customer insights and expertise from relationships we've fostered in the wine world, we have curated a wine selection to inspire exploration for novices and long-time wine lovers alike with the Coravin Wine Shop. Here are the black-owned labels we are excited to showcase:

  1. 2018 Le Artishasic Vin Clair Cuvée No. 1: This deceptively complex medium-bodied white blend has primary aromas of vanilla and honeysuckle. Made with Albarino, Arneis, Tocai Friulano, and Chardonnay grapes, this wine pairs well with sea bass, cream soup, and ceviche.

  2. 2015 Le Artishasic Old Vine Carignan Redwood Valley: Carignan is a unique red grape variety of Spanish origin that is more commonly found in French wine. This late ripening variety has aromatics of violet, rose petal, and baking spices, with a palate of cranberry, black cherry, and licorice. Pair this wine with black truffle risotto, Peking duck, foie gras, and brown bread. Only 154 cases were made!

  3. 2018 Le Artishasic Vin Rouge Cuvée No. 1: This New World red blend is made from Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, Graciano, and Cinsault grapes. It’s a complex wine with notes of raspberry, black currant, and wood, making it a great pairing for Tallegio cheese, pizza, and Indian food.

  4. 2019 Theopolis Vineyards Theo-patra’s Cuvée Cerise: Coravin was lucky to get one of the last cases of this vintage, so act fast on this complex cuvée of Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Petite Sirah –. Expect rich cranberry, dried plum, and elegant spice create a beautiful potpourri on the nose, while notes of blueberry jam and sweet vanilla create a long finish. Great on it’s own, but pairs well with all kinds of dishes )smoked turkey, duck, grilled meats and vegetables, barbecue, spareribs, braised beef, roast leg of lamb, veal, charcuterie, or dark chocolate).

  5. 2018 Theopolis Vineyards Estate Grown Petite Sirah: This Petite Sirah is full of bright fruit, firm tannins, and robust spices. Primary fragrances include black cherry, violets, and woodsy spices with a palate framed by velvety tannins. This vintage will stand up now and age beautifully for decades. Pair with barbecue, hearty stews, braised and grilled beef, pot roast, and other comfort foods. 

  6. 2020 Theopolis Vineyards Estate Grown Rosé of Petite Sirah: The color on this rosé is incredible. Expect aromas of wildflowers, chamomile, strawberry, and fresh watermelon. On the palate, this wine is dry and balanced with notes of fresh apples, wild berries, and a bright acidity that transcends to a long delicate finish. Theopolis rosé pairs well with grilled meats, crab cakes, flavorful vegetarian fare, ceviche, summer salads, and gourmet cheese.

  7. B. Stuyvesant Champagne Prestige Rose NV: Time for some bubbly! This sparkling wine blends grapes from 2-3 different harvests and is cellared for 36 months to bring out a sour, exotic smell and intense, balanced palate. The grape breakdown is approximately 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.

  8. B. Stuyvesant Champagne Demi Sec NV: This Demi Sec is a traditional blend of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir from several harvests. To the eye it’s light gold in color, on the nose are aromas of orange and hazelnuts, then on the palate it’s well-rounded with a nice sweetness. 

  9. B. Stuyvesant Champagne Cuvée Brut Rosé NV: Made up of approximately 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, this Brut rosé takes on a beautiful salmon color and generous bouquet of raspberry and redcurrant. 

  10. 2018 Frichette Red Mountain Merlot: The Red Mountain Merlot by Frichette is velvety smooth with ripe raspberry and mocha notes on the nose and ripe strawberry with silky tannins on the palate. It’s delicious when paired with a gouda cheese melted on your favorite burger off the grill or perfectly-seared steak paired with buttery roasted potatoes.

  11. 2018 Frichette Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from three different vineyards on Red Mountain, this Frichette wine smells of red raspberry and sweet tobacco leaf. On the palate, you’ll taste bright cherry on the first sip, then flavors evolve into mocha, caramel, and vanilla notes.

This list will continue to grow as we diversify our wine offering and bring more value to you, the wine lover. Share how you’re enjoying these wines with us on social media, @coravin.