We love to see it! Well respected brand, Wine Enthusiast, recently announced the recipients of its 2022 Wine Star Awards, and Black women won big. Tahiirah Habibi’s The Hue Society took home the award for Social Visionary of the Year, while San Francisco’s Tonya Pitts was named Sommelier of the Year. The annual Wine Star Awards are a celebration of individuals and brands that have significantly contributed to the wine world.
Habibi launched The Hue Society in 2017 to increase Black and Brown representation in the wine industry. The brand not only hosts its annual wine festival in Atlanta, but it also hosts a range of events to further educate communities on the wine industry, as it aims to leave a legacy of inclusivity that will continue to be the new standard of the wine world.
“The standards of this industry are polarizing for many of us, and oftentimes we are not allowed to be ourselves,” Habibi said in an interview. “I created The Hue Society because of and despite those experiences—because I know that connections are healing.”
For Tonya Pitts, supporting Black and Latino winemakers has long been a part of who she is. In addition to currently being the wine director of One Market in San Francisco—managing a list of around 500 wine labels— she also mentors and advocates for marginalized communities within the hospitality sector.
And while Pitts has a 30-year-long resume that impresses even the most advanced wine enthusiast, one simple quality ultimately led her to being named 2022’s Sommelier of the Year—her ability to meet people where they are in their wine journey while also connecting consumers with great wines as often as possible.
“A good sommelier is listening and paying attention to what the guest says, so that trust is built,” Pitts said. “It’s purely about the guest experience. You never know who is sitting in front of you as your guest. You treat everyone with the same dignity and respect, and it all flows from there.”