21 Black-owned wineries in the spotlight at Oakland tasting event

NICO SAVIDGE February 24, 2019

Mac McDonald, a winemaker and the co-owner of Vision Cellars in Windsor, stood inside the recreation center at DeFremery Park in West Oakland, talking about the people who typically sample his wine.

“I do wine dinners all over,” McDonald said, “and I look at my audience, and I’d say 90 percent of the time there are no African-Americans.”

Vision Cellars was one of a dozen black-owned wineries featured Saturday at the 8th annual Black Vines tasting event.

Larry Strickland — an aficionado of wine from Vallejo, but not a producer — said he came to the event in part because he rarely comes across wine made by vintners who look like him, and wanted to support those winemakers.

The wine tasting was billed as “a celebration of black wineries and diverse art.” Vendors poured samples of pinot noir and sangria for about 400 attendees. Artists and craftspeople displayed paintings, wine glasses and decorative items, all for sale.

Fern Stroud, who founded Black Vines, said the events show consumers that they have options to support black-owned wine businesses, and seek to make wine tasting — which can be an intimidating setting for anyone who hasn’t studied grape varietals and tannins — more accessible.

“You have to take that stigma off of wine tasting,” Stroud said, “and make it fun, make it interactive — make it not so up tight.”

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