Celebrating Black History Month - Winemakers, Distillers, Owners
By Laura Fagan Originally Published February 2021, Updated January 2023
February is Black History Month, and we’re raising a glass to Black-owned businesses and the many talented individuals trailblazing the wine and spirits industry. From bold red wines to smooth craft spirits, these products showcase the contributions and talents of Black winemakers, distillers and brand founders. Join us in supporting Black professionals in the wine and spirits space by pouring yourself a glass from their bottles below.
Fawn Weaver | Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Whiskey, is an agent of change in the spirits industry. Her brand was born after a New York Times headline about Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey caught her eye. The article referenced a change in Jack Daniel’s distillation story with the credit for the brand’s distillation technique being returned to its true originator. Weaver read that the technique came not from Dan Call, a white preacher, but from one of his slaves, Nearest Green. For Weaver, this became a call to action, and she was inspired to honor Green's legacy by creating her own brand. As a result, the world received a new Tennessee whiskey: Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. It is made in small batches and curated by descendants of Nathan "Nearest" Green, whose names and signatures can be found on the back of each label, imparting their passion for whiskey and their forefather’s story. Weaver's passion for highlighting often-erased Black history and honoring the contributions of Black people in the whiskey industry has made Uncle Nearest an inspired and award-winning brand.
Victoria Eady Butler | Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
Victoria Eady Butler, Master Blender at Uncle Nearest Whiskey, is a pioneer in her own right. As the great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green, Butler crafted the very first batch of Uncle Nearest Whiskey using the very technique Nearest developed. She has played a crucial role in the development of the brand's distinctive flavors. Uncle Nearest Whiskeys are known for their flavorful oak finishes and notes of frosted spice cake, banana, vanilla, white pepper and roasted corn. Butler's expertise and dedication to producing high-quality, handcrafted whiskey has contributed to the brand's success and recognition as a top player in the industry. The award-winning whiskey is wonderful in a handcrafted cocktail. We recommend trying it in an Uncle Nearest Penicillin.
Sip to Celebrate and Support: From January through March, Uncle Nearest is partnering with bars & restaurants, stores and their eCommerce accounts to raise $1 million to help support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in honor of MLK Jr. Day, Black History Month (BHM) and Women’s History Month (WHM) in its HBCU Old Fashioned Challenge. HBCUs, despite being historically underfunded, are exceptional institutions that are recognized for removing barriers to degree completion and have a massive return on postgraduate success. These institutions are also responsible for graduating a significant number of Black professionals in fields such as medicine, law, engineering and politics. During the challenge, Uncle Nearest will be donating $1 for every old fashioned cocktail sold across the country, meaning $1 of every bottle sold at ABC will go toward this program now through the end of March 2023. Learn more at www.oldfashionedcocktail.com.
Charles Woodson | Intercept Wines & Woodson Bourbon Whiskey
Charles Woodson is a Heisman trophy winner, Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer known for his excellence and dedication to his craft. The former NFL defensive back has spent his life breaking down barriers and excelling in every arena. So, it comes as no surprise that he found great success when he decided to enter the world of winemaking.
Woodson was inspired by the iconic Napa Valley during his time in California attending summer training camps as an Oakland Raider player. This drove him to launch a Napa cabernet sauvignon under the label TwentyFour, Woodson's jersey number. As the wine label grew in popularity and placed in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2014, his fans requested a more affordable, approachable brand to enjoy. After 15 years in the industry, Woodson produced Intercept Wines. These wines are intended to stand out in a crowded room by finding the perfect middle ground between accessibility, tradition, luxury and innovation at a value price. Discover the varietals found at your local ABC – cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
The 2020s have brought even more wins to Woodson with the 2020 release of his new bourbon and an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021. Woodson Bourbon Whiskey is a Kentucky bourbon distilled in Owensboro, Kentucky. It is finished in the same French oak wine barrels used to make Intercept Wines, infusing a unique berry flavor. Experience a smooth sip that is long lasting and enjoyable through the finish.
Watch our exclusive interview with Charles Woodson to learn more about him and his legacy here.
Warren Gardener | St. Petersburg Distillery
Warren Gardener is a man of many talents, but he's best known for the incredible spirits he crafts as the Master Distiller of St. Petersburg Distillery. Born in Jamaica, he has called Florida home for over 20 years, and during this time he has been mentored by a 4th generation master distiller. His apprenticeship was not just a lesson in distilling techniques and mash bills, but also in important life lessons.
Gardener's unique taste and work ethic earned him the title of Master Distiller, a title he holds with pride. He firmly believes that the key to success in work and life is to continue to strive for the best and to always do good.
The distillery produces a range of delicious spirits, such as gin, vodka and whiskey, but Gardener's favorite is the Old St. Pete Righteous Rum & Spice. This rum is truly special; it has a round and complex body with flavors of toffee and a hint of smoke, resulting in a rum tasting experience unlike any other.
Robin & Andréa McBride | McBride Sisters Wine Collection
The McBride Sisters are a revolutionary force in the winemaking world - not only do they own and operate the largest Black-owned winery in the United States, but they’re on a mission to shatter the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry. Growing up in world-renowned wine growing regions; Andréa in Monterey, California and Robin in Marlborough, New Zealand; the two sisters developed a passion for wine and eventually joined forces to assemble an inclusive, socially aware winery. The winery’s mantra is to “Break the Rules, Drink the Wine.”
If you love New Zealand wines, the McBride Sisters' Sauvignon Blanc is a must-try – it's perfectly balanced with dry acidity and notes of peach, mango and Key lime. The McBride Sisters Riesling is aromatic, featuring flavors of ripe nectarine and honey with a crisp, clean finish. The riesling is part of the McBride Sisters' Black Girl Magic collection, which celebrates the resilience and strength of Black women. Whether you're a casual drinker or a serious connoisseur, Robin and Andréa's award-winning wines are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Phil Long | Longevity Wines
Phil Long, winemaker and owner of Longevity Wines, is a testament to the fact that love is truly all you need. Located in Livermore, California, Longevity is a boutique, family-owned wine company that is dedicated to producing high-quality wines and got its start, like many other brands, in a garage, fueled by passion and unwavering commitment.
Long's winemaking philosophy is centered on the complete wine-drinking experience, including the food, people and location in which the wine is enjoyed. The brand's inspiration comes from the love shared between Long and his late wife, which is symbolized by the lacy heart-shaped logo on each bottle.
Long's dedication to constantly improving and evolving his winemaking process has resulted in a range of excellent wines, including the popular cabernet sauvignon, a blend of several different clones from different vineyards and the result of his mission to create a Bordeaux-style wine. It is plum colored and features intense black cherry notes, as well as soft tannins and a finish of light vanilla and cocoa that will complement any beef dinner.
As a Certified Minority Business by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Longevity is also committed to encouraging the growth of diverse businesses and uplifting the community.
Joy Spence | Appleton Estate Rum
Joy Spence is not just any Master Blender – she's the first woman to hold this prestigious title in the spirits industry. More impressively, she's been living up to and expanding the role for over 20 years, crafting world-class rums like Appleton Estate Signature Blend and the highly acclaimed Appleton Estate 12 Year Rare Casks Rum.
But Joy's ambitions go beyond creating great rum. She's dedicated to upholding the high standards that the public has come to expect from Appleton Estate, and her passion for excellence has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, the company released the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend to mark her 20th anniversary as Master Blender. This special bottle features a blend of rums aged a minimum of 25 years and some aged up to 35 years. It was voted Rum of the Year by Liquor.com.
Joy's achievements can also be found and celebrated outside the world of spirits. Along with her impressive career in rum, she holds a Bachelor of Science with honors, a Master of Science and an honorary Doctorate of Science and Law. She was also the first woman to receive the Jamaica Prime Minister Medal for Science and Technology. Joy has solidified her place as a true leader and innovator in the spirits industry.
Kevin Hart | Gran Coramino Tequila
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart has always been known for his quick wit and larger-than-life personality. But in recent years, he's added a new title to his credentials: tequila brand owner.
Hart's journey into the world of spirits led to the creation of Gran Coramino Reposado Cristalino Tequila, which is aged for several months in Eastern European oak barrels and has quickly gained a devoted following thanks to its smooth, complex flavor profile. Hart teamed up with Juan Domingo Beckmann, an 11th generation tequila maker, to bring Gran Coramino to life. Beckmann's generational expertise and attention to detail are evident in every sip of this reposado cristalino, which is made from 100% blue agave and boasts flavors of vanilla, toffee and dark berry.
Kevin Hart’s tequila is evidence of his dedication to quality and hard work. So, the next time you're in search of a premium, smooth-sipping tequila – grab a bottle of Gran Coramino Reposado Cristalino or Añejo Tequila.
Check out our ‘Sip & Spill’ session with him to learn more about Gran Coramino Tequila.
Michael Jordan | Cincoro Tequila
From his legendary basketball career to his iconic role in Space Jam, Michael Jordan is a household name. The man has always delivered on and off the court, and now in the world of tequila, joining several other celebrities to enter the category. Alongside fellow basketball titans Jeanie Buss, Wes Edens, Wyc Grousbeck and Emilia Fazzalari, Jordan is one of the five owners of Cincoro Tequila. Cincoro is an ultra-luxury tequila that started with a simple dinner conversation that matured into a gold-standard brand in its category. The name Cincoro combines the Spanish words for "five" and "gold," a nod to the five owners and their goal of creating a top-quality product. Made from 100% Blue Weber Agave sourced from the high and lowlands of Jalisco, Mexico, Cincoro's Blanco varietal is a blend of fresh and cooked agave for a slightly sweet flavor. The brand has also expanded to include añejo and reposado, both of which are known for their rich, ultra-smooth taste and luxurious finish.
The Cincoro bottle, designed by Mark Smith (who also collaborated with Jordan on the Air Jordan's at Nike), is inspired by the Blue Weber Agave leaf and features two distinct 23-degree angles in the punt and the stopper to pay homage to MJ’s number. For the final design element, if you line up 23 bottles from top to bottom, they create a perfect circle the same size as center court. So, celebrate His Airness and sip on the tequila that brings together the best of MJ and premium agave spirits.
Snoop Dogg | INDOGGO Gin
As if his skills on the mic weren't impressive enough, Snoop is now trending in the world of wine and spirits, solidifying his spot as the G.O.A.T.
Snoop’s appreciation for gin dates way back and even inspired the second single, “Gin and Juice,” off his debut album. So, it seems only natural that the iconic rapper and producer launched a slightly sweet spirit with a laid-back SoCal style. INDOGGO Gin is made from a unique blend of seven botanicals including juniper berries, orange and coriander. The gin is distilled five times to create a smooth, crisp and balanced spirit that is infused with an all-natural strawberry flavor for a sweet finish.
In addition to INDOGGO Gin, Snoop Dogg has also teamed up with 19 Crimes to release a line of Cali Red, Cali Sparkling Gold and Cali Rosé wines. The living labels of 19 Crimes wines celebrate rule-breaking and a rebellious spirit. Each wine is bound to one of the 19 crimes that would turn a British convict into a colonist to be exiled from England to Australia in the late 1700s. Snoop Dogg's partnership with 19 Crimes is a perfect pairing, as both are all about celebrating the unconventional, conquering adversity and breaking the rules.
Pricing, selection and vintages may vary by location.