Black vintners say securing capital their biggest challenge

Wineries owned by African Americans account for less than 1% of all U.S. wineries though they represent more than 10% of wine consumers.|

A survey of Black vintners has found that securing capital is the main roadblock in starting their own businesses.

Forty-three percent of the respondents listed startup funding as the primary factor in trying to ramp up businesses, based on the survey conducted by Monique Bell, a marketing professor at Fresno State University. About 14% of them listed time constraints and another 11% noted distribution issues as challenges in starting their own wine labels.

Bell surveyed 70 Black professionals in the wine sector about their attitudes in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the growing Black Lives Matter movement. Black-owned wineries account for less than 1% of all U.S. wineries though African Americans are more than 10% of overall wine consumers.

She also questioned them on the biggest overall challenges for the Black wine sector. Limited capital availability was the biggest challenge with 32% of the respondents ranking that item first. But 20% of the respondents still said that racism and bias was the biggest obstacle.

Ninety-five percent said they would not give up on the wine industry no matter the difficulties they have encountered.

Sonoma County Wine Auction selects honorary chairs

The annual Sonoma County Wine Auction has named three honorary chairs for the event that will be held Sept. 16 to 18, marking one of the first in-person local wine events since the pandemic started in March 2020.

The three are the Jackson family, owners of Jackson Family Wines of Santa Rosa; the Hamel family, owners of Hamel Family Wines of Sonoma; and Dan Kosta, owner of AldenAlli Winery.

This year’s auction will be held at the La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard.

Tickets for the 2021 Sonoma County Wine Auction are $2,500 per person and include all weekend festivities. More information can be found at

New enologist named at Ram’s Gate Winery

Rachel Bordes was promoted to enologist at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma.

Bordes has worked at the winery since last year, first serving as a harvest intern and then rising to the position of cellar technician. She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she majored in wine and viticulture.

In her new role, Bordes works with Joe Nielsen, director of winemaking, and assistant winemaker Orrin Oles to oversee all wine production across the laboratory, cellar and vineyards.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to

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