While certain regions and demographics have predominantly represented the wine industry, the emergence of Black-owned wineries brings a fresh and unique perspective to this timeless craft. According to a recent study by Dr. Monique Bell, "Terroir Noir: 2020 Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs," of the 11,000 wineries based in the U.S., less than 1 percent are Black-owned or have Black winemakers.

On a global level, the industry doesn't fare much better, but there is growth in Black ownership and winemaking in South Africa. These winemakers are making their mark, demonstrating their prowess in creating exceptional vintages that captivate the senses and redefine the boundaries of excellence.

Today, we spotlight these Black winemakers, celebrate their contributions, and highlight their incredible achievements in the vineyards and beyond. Learn more and explore the stories, the passion, and the wines that have made these vintners rise above the rest. From their innovative approaches to winemaking to their deep-rooted connections to their ancestral lands, we delve into the rich tapestry of their experiences, celebrating the cultural and historical significance woven into every bottle they produce.

Below, check out the inaugural class—in no particular order—of the "Best Black Winemakers" for the 2023 EBONY Food & Wine Honors.

Bertony Faustin, Abbey Creek Winery

Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek Winery. Image: courtesy of Abbey Creek.

Oregon's first Black winemaker, Bertony Faustin isn’t your traditional vintner. Prior to even opening his business, he didn’t drink. In fact, he likes to think of himself as an accidental winemaker. When guests visit Abbey Creek, they are met with hip hop playing throughout the tasting room. There isn’t some fancy tour or overly informative “spill.” It’s simply about coming in and having a good time, getting to know the people in the room, and vibing out while tasting great wines.

In 2015, Oregon was celebrating 50 years of wine. When Faustin looked around, he realized he was the only Black face among a mostly white-male crowd. "It finally set in then. After that, I wanted to focus more on representation by highlighting my story as well as several other “firsts” in this industry," he says.

Kindra Dionne, Fifty Leven Wine

Kindrs Dionne of Fifty Leven Wines. Image: courtesy of Kindra Dionne.

As an analytical thinker and introvert, Kindra Dionne started noticing the patterns of wine consumption at networking events in D.C.'s Wine Country: Loudoun County, VA. She observed that individuals from diverse backgrounds often had different tastes and preferences regarding wine pairings, particularly with ethnic foods. 

Motivated to challenge the limited representation of Black-owned wine companies, Dionne delved into extensive research, experimenting with blends, creating her wine label, Fifty Leven. The name pays homage to Dionne's upbringing as a "southern girl meets city girl" and signifies abundance and diversity. Her vision is to introduce wine enthusiasts to the vast array of Fifty Leven varietals and create an inclusive and approachable brand. Dionne envisions each glass of wine as a stepping stone toward fostering understanding, inclusivity, and appreciation.

Phil Long, Longevity Wines

Phil Long of Longevity Wines. Image: Ron Essex.

In the wine world, there are innovators like Phil Long, who push boundaries and challenge conventions. Long is a true trailblazer in both his role as the president of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) and the founder of Longevity Wines. Long was inspired to create a brand that offered inclusive wine experiences. 

As the president of AAAV, Phil Long dedicates himself to raising awareness of African Americans in the wine industry and creating opportunities for aspiring winemakers. Under his leadership, the organization has experienced remarkable growth, expanding by over 500% and awarding more than 80 scholarships since 2020. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Phil was nominated for Social Visionary of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2020.

Ntsiki Biyela, Aslina Wines

Ntsiki Biyela of Aslina Wines. Image: Phandulwazi Jikelo.

Ntsiki Biyela, a trailblazer in the wine industry, embarked on a remarkable journey as South Africa's first Black female winemaker and winery owner. After over a decade of experience and serving as a brand ambassador, she founded Aslina Wines, named after her grandmother. Biyela's winemaking philosophy is beautifully uncomplicated—she allows nature's offerings to shine through and gently guides the wines to reveal their inherent beauty. 

Biyela's passion extends beyond winemaking. She actively contributes to the wine industry's growth by supporting entrepreneurship, community development, and education. In her role on the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, she shapes programming for young South Africans in the Cape Winelands. The academy provides technical training and skill wine industry and personal development needed for the wine industry. 

Wayne Jordan and Samuel Jordan, Red Bear Winery

Sam Jordan of Red Bear Winery. Image: courtesy of Red Bear Winery.

Red Bear Winery, a boutique family-owned label nestled in Sonoma, California, has garnered attention with its remarkable 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon. Founded by father-son duo Wayne and Samuel Jordan, this collaboration represents their shared love for premium wines and a commitment to producing exceptional vintages in the renowned Alexander Valley.

Wayne Jordan, a prominent figure in real estate development, embarked on a new adventure in 2018 when he joined forces with his son, Samuel, to establish Red Bear Winery. As an entrepreneur and wine connoisseur, Samuel Jordan developed his affinity for wines during his time in Barcelona and Madrid. Influenced by the rich wine culture, he embraced the notion of a versatile wine that transcends boundaries and can be savored in any setting. 

Erica Estrada, Chelsea Walden, Kyndal Easter and Ryann Casey, Mela

Erica Estrada, Chelsea Walden, Kyndal Easter and Ryann Casey, the owners of Mela Vino. Image: Sierra Daniles Baker.

Mela, a women-owned wine label and lifestyle brand, has made a remarkable impact since its launch less than a year ago. With their delicious California wines and accolades, the brand has captured the hearts of wine enthusiasts. 

Built on a foundation of friendship, Mela is a luxury wine label created by four Black women: Erica Estrada, Chelsea Walden, Kyndal Easter, and Ryann Casey. The company values the spirit of connection in all aspects of their brand. The name, also short for melanin, represents the harmonious blend of friendship, connection, and exquisite wines. With their commitment to growth, the brand is poised to expand their reach and deliver remarkable wine experiences that captivate wine lovers worldwide.

Tinashe, Kumusha Wines

Tinashe of Kumusha Wines. Image: courtesy of Tinashe.

Tinashe, a Zimbabwean native, has embarked on a remarkable journey in winemaking. From his humble beginnings learning the craft from his father to pursuing formal education, Tinashe's deep connection to nature and his homeland led him to establish Kumusha Wines, a brand that embraces sustainability and the essence of home.

Drawing inspiration from his upbringing and love for his native land, the vintner's brand means "home" in Shona. Tinashe's ultimate goal with Kumusha Wines is to share his homeland's unique flavors and stories with wine enthusiasts worldwide. He believes that every sip of wine carries the spirit of a place and its people.