Meet the leading African-American winemakers

With estimates that African-Americans make up a mere 1% of the U.S. wine industry, Phil Long is hoping for change.

He's the founder of Longevity wines in Livermore, California -

and is one of a series of producers and sellers fighting to diversify their industry.

“I didn't start out to be a Black winemaker, I just I'm a winemaker that is Black. But once I realized how few there were and I started understanding the non-diverse landscape, that's when it became more of an element of who I am."

Long is also president of the Association of African American Vintners

and is working to make the sector more inclusive.

"The first prong is to try to create awareness among young people of color, of any color, that this is an actual industry you can have a career in. The second prong is to create paths for them and that we do through scholarships [...] And then the third prong is because we are where we are and there are so few of us, we're trying to create awareness among the general public that there are African-American winemakers and people of color and women winemakers that we're out here too."

"Welcome to Happy Cork."

On the other side of the business, there are wine sellers like Sunshine Floss.

She opened her wine store in Brooklyn in 2018, with the goal of stocking black-owned brands.

"Brown Estate, one of my favorites, it's the first Black family to own a vineyard in Napa Valley. So, definitely the heritage behind it alone in itself is amazing."

The store carries labels from all around the world

including offerings from Mary J. Blige and John Legend.

But Sunshine says there’s still a long road ahead.

"A lot of the winemakers that I talk to now, they would tell me, they would walk into wine stores, say, hey, I have this amazing product and people wouldn't even look at them. So, for me, it's extremely important to be able to give this platform to a lot of these black-owned winemakers."

In February, some of the world’s premiere Black wine brands came together online to share their experiences of racism and hopes for the community.

Chris Christensen owns Bodkin Wines.

"I had more of those moments earlier on in my career where it's like, are you the winemaker? I'm like, yes, yes, I am, I'm also the owner."

"Kristen what do you think about this wine?"

Meanwhile, Kristen Braswell, founder of CrushGlobal Travel is creating spaces for Black wine drinkers, through virtual events like these:

"Just as the Black traveler is not a monolith, neither is the Black wine drinker and so I felt like this was a great opportunity to not only educate Black wine drinkers about wine, but also to show the wine industry we are interested in drinking wine, traveling, learning and purchasing."

Video Transcript

- With estimates that African-Americans make up a mere 1% of the US wine industry, Phil Long is hoping for change. He's the founder of Longevity Wines in Livermore, California and is one of a series of producers and sellers fighting to diversify their industry.

PHIL LONG: Again, I didn't start out to be a Black winemaker. I just-- I'm a winemaker that's Black. But once I realized how few there were and I started understanding the non-diverse landscape, that's when it became more of an element of who I am.

- Long is also president of the Association of African-American Vintners and is working to make the sector more inclusive.

SUNSHINE FLOSS: Welcome to Happy Cork.

- And on the other side of the business, there are wine sellers like Sunshine Floss. She opened her wine store in Brooklyn in 2018 with a goal of stocking Black-owned brands.

SUNSHINE FLOSS: Brown Estate, one of my favorites. It's the first Black family to own a vineyard in Napa Valley. So definitely, the heritage behind it alone in itself is amazing.

- The store carries labels from all around the world, including offerings from Mary J. Blige and John Legend. But Sunshine says there's still a long road ahead.

SUNSHINE FLOSS: A lot of the winemakers that I talk to now, they would tell me, they would walk into wine stores, say, hey, I have this amazing product. And people wouldn't even look at them. So for me, it's extremely important to be able to give this platform to a lot of these Black-owned winemakers.

- In February, some of the world's premier Black wine brands came together online to share their experiences of racism and hopes for the community. Chris Christensen owns Bodkin Wines.

CHRIS CHRISTENSEN: I had one of those moments earlier on in my career, where it's like, are you the winemaker? I'm like, yes, yes, I am. I'm also the owner.

[LAUGHTER]

- And what do you think about this wine?

- Meanwhile, Kristin Braswell, founder of CrushGlobal travel is creating spaces for Black wine drinkers through virtual events like these.

KRISTIN BRASWELL: Just as the Black traveler is not a monolith, neither is the Black wine drinker. And so I felt like this was a great opportunity to not only educate Black wine drinkers about wine but also to show the wine industry that we are interested in drinking wine, traveling, learning, and purchasing.

Citrusy, as some Sauvignon-- some Sauvignon Blancs are just too powerful for me.