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Less than 1% of US winemakers are Black, but efforts being made toward inclusion

Wine has always been one of our planet’s great social connectors, as well as a symbol of generosity, pleasure, and celebration.

This spring, however, while the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important human connection is, and the global Black Lives Matter protests have shown how far we have to go in creating a more equitable society, there’s renewed energy toward making the wine world more inclusive.

Although there are more than 8,000 wineries in the United States, about one-tenth of 1% of the winemakers and brand owners are Black, estimates Phil Long, president of the Association of African-American Vintners and owner of the Longevity winery in the California Bay Area’s Livermore Valley.

Which is why, Long says, “the real goal of our organization is promoting awareness — letting people know we exist, and we make great wine.”

It’s true. Many of the wines are absolutely delicious, and range from big, bold reds with savory flavors to refreshing whites, as well as unusual, experimental sparkling wines made from hybrid grapes.

“I didn’t know winemaking was a career choice,” says Long, who has a degree in architecture and spent years as a creative director in the Bay Area. “For Italian-Americans, wine is part of their culture and heritage. Most Black winemakers don’t have that.”

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