This spring, Mela, a new, Black and women-owned wine label and lifestyle brand, announced the launch of its inaugural releases, two distinctly delicious California wines made using trusted traditional methods with a modern twist. The essence of the brand is meant to embody themes of of friendship, longevity, and quality. Short for melanin, the name Mela is an ode to the founders’ different shades of brown and translates into “to gather” and “to be full” in Sanskrit and Hebrew, respectively.

The genesis of Mela began back in 2007, when four young women–Kyndal Easter, Chelsea Walden, Ryann Casey, and Erica Estrada–became friends as freshmen at the University of Southern California. For over a decade, their friendship continued to grow even as they ventured off in different directions across the country, thriving in their respective careers and starting families of their own. Fast forward to 2020, when the pandemic hit and the need for staying connected was of the utmost importance, the women’s vision for Mela began to come together.

Mela founders Ryann Casey, Chelsea Walden (in blue), Erica Estrada (in white) and Kyndal Easter. Image: courtesy of Mela.

The concept originated over a shared glass of wine during one of the women’s many Zoom get-togethers, which would eventually lead to countless hours of planning, vineyard visits, blending, bottling, and every step in between. Two years later, Mela is officially making its debut. 

“From the beginning, we’ve set out to ensure Mela adds the ‘finishing touch’ to every occasion, whether that be a casual gathering with friends, a special family celebration, or enjoying a glass solo after a long day,” said Easter, who serves as the brand’s Communications and Public Relations Director. “The four of us met 15 years ago as teenagers, so we understand and appreciate the importance of staying connected in an ever-changing world. Time is of the essence, and with Mela, we’re mastering the art of reclaiming it.” 

Image: courtesy of Mela

The co-founders are also on a mission to bring new faces and perspectives to the homogenous wine industry. Estrada, the brand's Marketing and Creative Director says, “From the vine to the table, it’s clear there is an underrepresentation of women and BIPOC leaders in the wine industry, and that’s part of the reason why the name ‘Mela’ and our wine label are so consequential.” She explains, “Through Mela, we’re excited to continue diversifying the wine industry while offering approachable, tastefully crafted wines for every occasion.” 

Mela wines are a blend of the founders’ favorite varietals. The grapes for the Mela White Blend come from vineyards in Napa Valley and Clarksburg, a growing region in the Sacramento Valley, as well as Mendocino. For the Mela Red Blend, the team sourced from vineyards throughout the Napa Valley and Clarksburg. 

Image: courtesy of Mela

Mela 2021 White Blend (13.7% ABV) $28,

A blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier with a touch of Riesling. This refreshing wine leads with aromas of honeysuckle, lemon rind, and apricots giving way to a palate of apples, peaches, and juicy pears culminating in a crisp, dry finish. Aged for five months in cold fermentations and in a combination of stainless-steel, concrete egg tanks and French oak barrels. 

Image: courtesy of Mela

Mela 2020 Red Blend (14.5% ABV) $40, 

A blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Syrah. This robust wine offers aromas of blackberries, tobacco, and anise followed by red and black fruits, toasted vanilla, and a hint of spice on the palate rounded out by polished tannins and a lush mouthfeel. Aged for 16 months in new and used French oak barrels.