Wine Guide: 10 Black-Owned Wineries We Love
We’re celebrating Black Winemakers across our home state by giving you the low-down on 10 Black-owned wineries you just can’t miss.
By Logan Davis
February 20, 2022
Did you know that out of the 11,000+ wineries in the U.S., less than 1% are Black-owned? The statistic reveals a sad truth about an industry we love; the wine world lacks inclusivity and it’s time we start to sip with purpose.
We’ve mapped out a guide for you to 10 exemplary wineries that are owned and operated by Black identifying winemakers in California. Support these Black-owned wineries by ordering a few bottles or planning a visit & celebrate Black winemakers in a meaningful way.
Theodora R. Lee, founder of Theopolis Vineyard
Theodora R. Lee – otherwise known as Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards – is the award winning winemaker behind Theopolis Vineyard. She’s a bold Anderson Valley vintner by way of a San Francisco courthouse; Theodora used to be a trial lawyer, then, "decided she needed a drink." She’s been selling wine since 2014 and was named a 2020 Wine Industry Leader by winebusiness.com.
Theopolis is known for its Petite Sirah (and Rosé of Petite Sirah, which we can’t get enough of). Drive amongst the gorgeous Mendocino Coast and find yourself at one of their events, or pick up a bottle at their tasting room. We guarantee you’ll come back for more.
Chris Christensen of Bodkin Wines, with his favorite canned wines in tow
The man, the myth, the legend: Chris Christensen. Chris is a proud 4th generation Iowan who went coastal for college, and stayed out west to become a self-taught, envelope-pushing vintner. He burst onto the wine scene in 2011 with Bodkin wines, where he’s known for being the first American to make a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc — and now it’s in a can; Chris is one of our partners at Maker, and working with him is easily one of the highlights of the job. Try each of his wines in our Bodkin Bundle - whose profits will benefit Chris' organization of choice, the Association of African American Vintners.
Lloyd Davis of Corner 103 in Sonoma
Lloyd Davis is the proud founder of Corner 103, Sonoma’s first and only Black-owned winery. Located in the heart of Sonoma Square, his tasting room is a must visit, and was actually voted the #1 Best Tasting Room by USA Today! His mission is to make wine less intimidating to encourage people to feel more comfortable learning about it, and create approachable, award-winning, food-friendly wines. I mean, could their values be more aligned with ours? Book a visit at his tasting room in Sonoma Square to experience an unforgettable food & wine pairing or order a few of his amazing Dry Creek Zinfandels online!
Phil Long of Longevity Wines
For Phil Long, wine started as a hobby that slowly took over his garage. After years of honing his craft in his spare time, he and his wife — both Southern California natives — moved to Livermore Valley to start Longevity wines. That was in 2008, and today Longevity is the third largest wine brand in the valley, and it was named the 2019 Winery of the Year in Livermore Valley.
Long serves as the president of the African-American Vintners Association and has recently opened tasting rooms throughout the United States including in Oregon, Washington and Nevada.
Danny Glover of L'Object Wines, circa 1970s
Healdsburg-based L’Objet Wines is the craft of winemaker Danny Glover. Wine was his second art, as Danny wrote and produced music in L.A. prior to winemaking. Since then, he’s spent years perfecting the art of Pinot Noir — his muse. He’s a fan of minimal intervention, fine fruit, and being out in the vineyard as much as possible; he doesn’t have a tasting room, but you can (and absolutely should) order his Pinot online. Thank us later.
James Moss and his family — the crew behind J Moss Wines
If you want a classic, premium, savor-every-last-drip-of-the-bottle Napa Cabernet, look no further than J Moss Winery. The family owned and operated winery dates back to 2001, when James Moss and his wife, Janet — who has a winemaking degree — finally moved from Texas to Napa after falling for it on various weekend getaways.
It’s wise to make a reservation when visiting their northern Napa winery, as it’s earned a cult following for their incredible reds. You can also order their wines online.
Siblings Deneen, Coral and David Brown from Brown Estate
Brown Estate is the first Black-owned winery in Napa Valley, and is known far and wide for its drool inducing Zinfandel. Owned by 3 siblings, the Brown family got their start in the 1980s when their parents bought a deserted ranch in Napa and planted a few vines. 15 years later, the kids turned it into Brown by making their very first bottle of Zinfandel.
Brown is recognized — for its story and world class wines — throughout California. It’s not one to miss.
George Brown of Alexis George Winery
George Brown has a heart of gold and a knack for wine. He founded Alexis George Winery, based in Lodi, in 2013 and named it after his beloved children Alexis and George. What’s more: he uses sustainable farming practices and donates a portion of every wine bottle purchase to student scholarships in underserved communities. Delicious wine, admirable mission — this winery is worth raising a glass to.
Paula Harrell of P. Harrell Wines
Paula J. Harrell is a San Francisco native who first fell for wine while studying in Madrid for a semester during college. While she pursued other admirable careers afterwards — like women's and youth advocacy, and eventually gaining an MBA from SF State — wine was her true love. Eventually, she dedicated herself to it full time and started P. Harrell Wines, her own private wine label based in Napa.
To honor her upbringing, she names bottles after houses of family members in SF — like her Haight Street Dry Riesling, which one a Gold Medal in the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition.
Raymond Smith of Indigené Cellars
Located in the upper Carmel Valley near Paso Robles, Indigené Cellars is a family owned and operated winery founded by Oakland native Raymond Smith. After working as a grocery store clerk and eventually owning a small fleet of mobile wine bottling lines, he tapped his industry connections and started his own winery. His product is phenomenal, and his story is a rare one in wine — Smith did it all on his own, from the very beginning.