Happy June, fellow wine drinkers! This month, we’re celebrating with a reminder: There’s enough room at the table for all of us to learn more about wine together. Inviting everyone to enjoy wine — regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age (over 21), ability, or geographic location — enriches the experience across the board.
Join us in counting the many reasons why it’s important to offer everyone a seat at the table (and immediately pour them a glass of wine.):
1. Our differences are inherent to the wine experience
You might take a sip of wine and perceive notes of green pepper, while someone else may pick up on soil. Every palate is different – that’s the beauty of the tasting experience. Embracing these differences helps us learn about wine and how people experience it. Ask the most experienced sommeliers, and they’ll explain how they appreciate different wines for different reasons. Having different perspectives allows for fruitful discussion and learning from each other.
2. Diversity sparks innovation
Think of some of your favorite wine pairings – like pho and Riesling, for instance. Learning about dishes, people, and customs that exist across the world helps us broaden our understanding of wine. Did you know…
- Japanese-born Junichi Fujita owns a winery in Oregon and uses his heritage to shape his wine practice. His natural wines are inspired by the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – the beauty of imperfection.
- Dr. Hoby Wedler is a blind organic chemist who has inspired new ways of describing tasting notes. He hosts ‘Tasting in the Dark’ events to help wine drinkers analyze flavor, aroma, and texture with acute awareness of the world around them.
- Though Black-owned wineries only make up 1% of wineries in the U.S. they produce some of the most innovative wines on the market. For example, Amour Genéve created the world’s first naturally blue wine and Sapiens has developed 0% alcohol wine.
3. Creating opportunities for inclusion yields great wine
According to the Court of Master Sommeliers, 172 people have earned the title of Master Sommelier in the U.S. Of those 172, only 28 are women.
The underrepresentation is stark, especially when you consider this: While women only make up 14% of lead winemakers in California, 23% of their wineries were listed in “Opus Vino,” a global guide to top-quality wineries — an impressive stat by any measure!
What would the wine landscape look like if we built even more opportunities for historically marginalized groups? These are the questions we’re asking (and answering) together.
4. Being inclusive helps ensure wine professionals (and all wine enjoyers) can thrive.
As founding partner of Bergevin Lane Vineyards, Annette Bergevin, recounts:
“When I wore a wedding ring in the tasting room, so many people would say, ‘Your husband must be so proud!’ Or people would ask me if I married into the family because my name was the same as the winery. I always had to make a decision whether to correct them or just laugh and pour another sample. This got pretty tiring.”
Using inclusive language during wine experiences can go a long way in ensuring everyone is comfortable while trying to teach, learn, and discover new wine together.
In Vino Finito
As Sommeligay put it: “We can’t claim to be an industry that’s meant for everyone until we diversify the way we interact with it.”
The truth is this work shouldn’t be limited to one day, month, or week of the year. Every day when we show up to enjoy wine — here at Bright Cellars and wherever you’re drinking wine too — we have the opportunity to make the world of wine more inclusive of everyone.
Interested in learning more?
Organizations working to level the tasting field:
- The Hue Society
- The Roots Fund
- Hispanics in Wine
- Association of African American Vintners
- Black Wine Professionals
- Wine Unify
- Bâttonage Women in Wine
- Wine Empowered
Additional reading you can do:
- A Look at LBGTQIA+ Issues in Wine, and How the Industry Can Solve Them
- Being Black in the White World of Wine
- What Racism Looks Like Inside a Napa Valley Tasting Room
- These LGBTQ+ Wine Pros are Shaking Up an Industry
Actions you can take:
- Try RAM Cellars: For every bottle sold, $5 is donated to nonprofits that directly improve the lives of LGBTQ+ folks.
- Follow along with Black wine professionals changing the industry.
- Keep an open mind and continue on the path of education.
Want to chat? Shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts!