Money on tap for Black wine producers, entrepreneurs

Association of African American Vintners is intent on increasing the 1% Black ownership in the U.S. wine industry.|

To support Black wine producers and entrepreneurs, the Association of African American Vintners is establishing a grant to stimulate growth and sustainability.

According to the association’s website, the goal is to change this stark statistic: There’s less than 1% Black ownership in the U.S. wine industry.

“We’re excited to launch this initiative to deepen our commitment and impact in making the wine industry more equitable and inclusive,” said association president Phil Long, wine founder and winemaker of Longevity Wines in Livermore. “Until now, we’ve been primarily focused on scholarships and paving the path for people of color to enter the wine industry.”

Funding for the initial Wine Entrepreneur Grants opens next month, with a push to raise $25,000.

“We’re starting our third decade with a new commitment to provide tangible help to our members in breaking down barriers and building successful businesses,” Long said. “Our new wine entrepreneur grant program is just the first step.”

Founded in 2002, the association has grown to more than 200 members with more than 60 wineries and wine brands.

While the association was initially created for Black vintners, it has broadened its membership in recent years. In 2019, the association decided wineries don’t need to be owned by people of color to become members, as long as they support diversity and inclusion in the industry. Today, about 15% of its members are not people of color.

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at or 707-521-5310.

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