For years, the statistics surrounding the number of Black men and women who are not only wine brand owners—but even those who are deemed sommeliers—have been severely disproportionate. While the numbers are certainly rising, a recent survey found that only 11.3% of sommeliers in the US identify as Black, compared to 51.4% who are white.
To attain the prestigious designation in the wine world, one must work their way through several levels of certifications called WSET (Wine, Spirit and Education Trust). Often costly for many, the classes tend to deter folks from going after their passion. To help take away some of the stress and financial responsibility—and in an effort to get more people of color certified—Libby launched its Libby U scholarship program in partnership with well-known wine diversity advocate and sommelier, Tahiirah Habibi.
The brand's 2023 WSET Level 1 Wine Scholarship is designed to make wine more enjoyable and accessible, while challenging the conventions and antiquated methodologies that exist in the industry.
"Libby U came together in a way that was so organic and authentic. Everything came full circle, and I'm just happy to be working with my team to bring this initiative to life," Erisse Peterson, Head of Community at Libby. "These scholarship opportunities are so important, because I see how much it impacted my life. A few years ago, I never would've imagined that I'd have a career in wine, so being able to pay it forward means everything to me. This brand strives to be one that doesn't just talk the talk, but also walks the walk. We don't gatekeep wine here. We want everyone to know they're welcome."