Winemaking is not a field that has ever drawn a large number of African-American winemakers or winery owners, and it is not a field that has been particularly hospitable to them.
According to some estimates, no more than 1% of the country’s wineries are owned in whole or in part by Blacks or have a Black winemaker. African-American winemaker Phil Long of Longevity Wines in California’s Livermore Valley, president of the Association of African American Vintners, thinks even that estimate is too high, believing that the percentage is more like 0.1%. Whatever the reality, it’s undeniable that the industry is overwhelmingly white.
Doing consumer marketing research as a grad student at Kansas State University, Jennifer McDonald thought there’d be a place for an urban winery to serve city-dwellers. After unsuccessfully applying to nine other banks to finance her business – an experience she attributes to skepticism about whether a young black woman could successfully run a winery business in the Sunflower State – she won backing to establish Jenny Dawn in Wichita’s historic Union Station.
To read the rest of this article and find out about the other 19 wineries featured, click here