OAKLAND SHOWCASES AN EMERGING BLACK-OWNED WINE SCENE
In our opinion, wine and more generally, alcohol, transcend culture and race. Aside from religious restrictions, is there a single culture on the planet that does not produce and/or imbibe some form of alcohol? Cursory research suggests the Inuit (it’s difficult to make alcohol from snow and whale blubber) and few else. Of course, alcohol also informs and defines culture in many ways both positive and negative, and it’s the type of alcohol that does the defining. One man’s sake is another woman’s Scotch, in other words. And wine tends to be, to put it bluntly, pretty white. Culturally, that is. While it’s fairly common in many Asian cultures to collect wines as investment, as an everyday beverage wine is an also-ran. And while there is extensive grape growing and wine making in some South American countries such as Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, that is more a legacy of European cultures that colonized and migrated to those countries than an indigenous cultural trait. And Africa? Really, no. South Africa, sure, but…
Nope, wine is European. Eastern and Western, and where they can’t grow grapes, like England and Denmark, they drink wine. A lot. The English created the modern wine trade; Burgundy, Bordeaux, Port and Sherry really wouldn’t be a thing if not for the Brits. And of course wine in the United States is a big deal, but there was a time in the U.S. when wine was considered too European; old fashioned, an immigrant’s drink. Gimme a beer, or a martini. Now, the USA is the world’s biggest consumer of wine. Demographically, however, that consumption is extremely monotone.
So we were interested to read, in Vinepair, about an organization called Black Vines, founded in 2011 and showcasing black-owned wineries in the Bay Area and beyond. Black Vines recently held a “mini-festival” with more than a dozen black winemakers in attendance in Oakland. And what better place to celebrate diversity in wine than Oakland, one of the country’s most culturally diverse cities and home to a thriving urban wine making scene?