15 Black Wine Professionals You Need to Know

Wine is arguably one of the world’s greatest social connectors. In times of celebration, relaxation and travel, a glass or bottle of wine connects us with family, friends and even strangers. 

Prior to this year, the wine industry has been associated with exclusion and a lack of diversity, but with the global Black Lives Matter movement building momentum and sparking needed actions in 2020, the message to include, amplify and promote the work of black wine professionals across the globe is finally being embraced!

August marks National Black Business Month and we set out to recognize black wine professionals across the nation that are active in using their voice to build a more inclusive environment within the wine space. 

Here at Sippd, we are devoted to the inclusion of black sommeliers, wine professionals and brands and we promise to amplify and promote their voices wherever we can. 

To take action and stand in solidarity with our community, we have created a list of 15 black wine professionals we love and how to support them in their endeavors within the industry. From sommeliers to vintners to bloggers and podcast hosts and everywhere in between, let’s shine a light on those wine professionals helping progress necessary change and equality in the wine industry!

SHAYLA VARNADO
Founder, Black Girls Wine 

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Photo Credit: Voyage ATL

Created in 2016, Shayla Varnado launched Black Girls Wine with the goal of celebrating the black woman and her love for wine, decadence, and rich experiences at once. Now a hub of information and a source for connection, experience and luxury in the everyday lifestyle, Black Girls Wine Society is a growing digital community with more than 100 members across 17 cities in America. 

You can indulge, absorb and experience the magic of Black Girls Wine in a few ways by signing up to be a member of the society, listening to the The BGW Podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play, or tuning into the Wine Down LIVE weekly broadcast on Facebook, featuring their favorite wines, pairings and discussions on black culture. 

Learn more about Shayla and Black Girls Wine here
Follow Shayla, @shaylavarnado
Follow Black Girls Wine, @blackgirlswine 

TAHIIRAH HABIBI
Sommelier and Founder, The Hue Society

Tahiirah-Habibi-Wine-Professional
Photo Credit: Voyage ATL

In 2017, sommelier and self-proclaimed “wine bae” Tahiirah Habibi founded The Hue Society, a professional and social network that serves as a  lifestyle hub for access to all things related to Black wine culture. Seeing the need for a curated space, The Hue Society takes pride in cultivating the intersection of diversity, wine and culture while advancing, celebrating and connecting the community.

Want to take part in one of their interactive wine tasting experiences? This fun way to support their brand and engage with the community is coming soon. Sign up here to be the first to know when more details are released. 

Learn more about Tahiirah and The Hue Society here
Follow Tahiirah, @sippingsocialite 
Follow The Hue Society, @thehuesociety

TIVON JOHNSON
Blogger and Founder, Black Wine Lovers 

Tivon-Johnson-Wine-Professional

Tivon is a Washington, DC-based wine drinker with a taste for writing. Creating his blog Von Vino in 2016 as a way to share his research, travels, and personal experiences while drinking wine, his ultimate goal was to deliver valuable content on the subject of wine. 

Seeing a lack of social groups and online communities for black winos, he decided to create the Black Wine Lovers Facebook group to foster discussion within the demographic. Now four years later, the social networking group allowing members to share their love and appreciation of wine is comprised of more than 2,800 members! 

Want to join the network of wine professionals, content creators, and entrepreneurs sharing their passion? Submit for group approval on Facebook here

Visit the Von Vino blog here
Follow Black Wine Lover, @blackwinelovers
Follow Tivon, @von_vino

REGINE T. ROUSSEAU
Founder, Shall We Wine 

Regine-Rousseau-Wine-Professional
Photo Credit: Wine Enthusiast

Media personality, speaker and author Regine T. Rousseau is the founder of Shall We Wine, a marketing, promotions and events partner that specializes in offering wine and spirits solutions for both clients and consumers. Centered around approachability and accessibility, Regine is inspiring wine and spirit drinkers everywhere.

From corporate and private wine tastings to organized consumer events to virtual tastings, Shall We Wine offers it all! Want to plan your next virtual brunch or attend their next virtual cocktail happy hour? Contact Shall We Wine here to book.

Learn more about Regine and Shall We Wine here
Follow Regine, @reginetrousseau 
Follow Shall We Wine, @shallwewine

RAY SANDERS
Blogger, The Hood Wine Connoisseur 

Ray-Sanders-Wine-Professional

Created in 2019, Ray started his YouTube and blog, The Hood Wine Connoisseur, as a way to chronicle his journey to become a sommelier while sharing his wine reviews as he didn’t see people of his complexion, ethnicity or culture in the niche wine space. Posting every (Wine) Wednesday on his YouTube channel, Ray brings wine reviews and overall knowledge to his followers in his “playbook for all things wine.”

Currently on his journey to become a sommelier, we included Ray in this list as he is actively using his voice and platform to bring representation to an underrepresented demographic. 

Subscribe to Ray’s YouTube
Visit The Hood Wine Connoisseur blog here
Follow Ray, @thehoodwineconnoisseur

ANDRÉ HUESTON MACK
Sommelier, Winemaker, Designer

Andre-Mack-Maison-Noir
Photo Credit: USA Today

Leaving his desk job to pursue his passion for wine in the early 2000’s, André found success as an acclaimed sommelier, author and eventual winemaker. Founding Maison Noir Wines in 2007, he set out to incorporate his trademark attitude and personal perspective on wine subculture while sourcing the best fruit possible in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon to produce wine that demonstrates individuality. Now producing 30,000 cases a year, you can find his wine in restaurants and retail stores in 45 states and 11 countries.

André has also recently opened & Sons Ham Bar restaurant, & Sons Buttery cheese and provisions shop, VyneYard wine shop with “tableside” service and is set to open Et Fils Microbakery soon!

Learn more about André and Maison Noir Wines here
Follow André, @andrehmack
Follow Maison Noir Wines, @maisonnoirwines

LYDIA RICHARDS
Sommelier and Founder, Vino Concierge

Lydia-Ricahrds-Wine-Professional

Lydia is a Certified Sommelier based out of New York City. Starting her career in marketing and public relations within the fashion industry, she decided to take a leap of faith and pursue her dream to become a wine evangelist. Currently working at Colangelo & Partners, an integrated communications agency focusing on wine, food and spirits, she’s a wine knowledge powerhouse! 

Believing wine is the passport to the world, Lydia branched out to create her own brand, Vino Concierge. Offering a wide array of wine-related services including wine education, private and corporate tastings, personalized consulting services and virtual events, Lydia knows how to make your experience unforgettable.

Learn more about Lydia and Vino Concierge here
Follow Lydia, @vinoconcierge

JULIA CONEY
Wine Writer and Founder, Black Wine Professionals

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Photo Credit: Food & Wine Magazine

Julia Coney is a Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas-based wine writer, wine educator, speaker, and consultant. Not afraid to bring light to the issues in the industry, Julia has spoken and written on wine, winemakers, personal essays, and the intersection of race and wine. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Vinepair, Food + Wine, The Tasting Panel, Plate Magazine, Forbes.com, and many more impressive publications. 

In 2020, Julia launched Black Wine Professionals to help address the diversity problems in the wine industry and to “change the perception of what a wine drinker looks like.” As a resource for wine industry employers and gatekeepers, professionals, and the food and beverage community, the group aims to be a system for support and growth.  

Learn more about Julia and Black Wine Professionals here
Follow Julia, @juliaconey
Follow Black Wine Professionals, @blackwineprofessionals

JENNIFER MCDONALD
Founder and Winemaker, Jenny Dawn Cellars

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Photo Credit: Black Enterprise

Jennifer McDonald is the first African American woman to open an urban winery in Kansas. As a successful entrepreneur, human resources and recruiting professional, she leveraged her business and leadership skills from the corporate world into the wine industry. 

Located in downtown Wichita at historic Union Station, Jennifer founded Jenny Dawn Cellars in 2016. Now crafting and bottling her wines on-site with grapes and juice sourced from the finest growers in California and Kansas, Jennifer has grown to offer charcuterie and small bites, venue rentals, private wine tastings, wine locker memberships, and Winuecation – a monthly educational class.

Learn more about Jennifer and Jenny Dawn Cellars here
Follow Jennifer, @sipwithjennydawn
Follow Jenny Dawn Cellars, @jennydawncellars

CHASITY COOPER
Journalist and Blogger, Wine With Chas

Photo Credit: Vintner Project

Chasity is a Chicago-based Communications Specialist and Freelance Journalist who develops content strategies for small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. 

As an oenophile and creative, Chastity has written for publications and websites such as Essence, The Plug Daily, Vine Pair, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Elite Daily, The Grio, and many more. Chasity also shares her love for wine, spirits, design and everything in between on her blog, Wine With Chas, as she aims to teach her readers about wine in a fun, approachable manner.

Visit the Wine With Chas blog here
Follow Chastity, @chasitycooper

WANDA MANN
Blogger, Wine With Wanda 

Wanda-Mann-Wine-Professional
Photo Credit: Forbes

A native New Yorker with Southern roots and the daughter of a professional chef, food & wine has always been an integral part of Wanda’s life. Writing her first wine story in 2010, Wanda was hooked and her blog, Wine with Wanda is now a popular wine lifestyle destination featuring winemakers, wine destinations and bottle reviews. 

As a travel lover and a Certified Specialist of Wine, Wanda loves learning and sharing the history and culture of a place through its wine traditions. As she states, “more than just a beverage, wine is an artistic and cultural treasure that has the power to bring people together,” and she continues to do just that through her writing. 

Visit the Wine with Wanda blog here
Follow Wanda, @winedinewanda

JERMAINE STONE
Founder at Cru Luv Selections

Jermaine-stone-Wine-Professional

A Bronx native, Jermaine Stone was raised worlds away from wine country with plans to become a rapper. Accidentally getting into wine as a temporary wine packer, he realized he enjoyed the field and wanted to learn everything he could about vino. Fast forward a few years and Jermaine decided to combine both of his loves to create Cru Luv Selections, a consulting firm dedicated to blending wine and hip hop. Through importing, consulting, marketing, and product sourcing, the company creates content geared around the two social connectors.

His podcast, Wine and Hip Hop, was started in 2016 with the purpose to find the similarities in both cultures while creating the ultimate safe space for both worlds. Showcasing the appreciation the hip hop community has always had for fine wine as well as the love the wine culture has for hip hop culture, Jermaine blends the two effortlessly. 

Learn more about Jermaine and Cru Luv Wine here
Follow Jermaine, @realwolfofwine
Follow Wine and Hip Hop, @wineandhiphopshow

DLYNN PROCTOR
Sommelier and Director, Fantesca

DLynn-Proctor-Wine-Professional

DLynn Proctor has been a figure in the wine industry for almost 20 years. With extensive experience working with the best in fine dining, retail and web sales, fine and rare wine brokerage, and international education, DLynn is a zealot for wine, food and people.

DLynn has been featured in the UPSCALE TV series, and is one of the four featured subjects in the internationally acclaimed wine documentary SOMM. He has also most recently appeared on screen with a cameo in the Netflix Original film Uncorked where he also earned the title of Associate Producer for his work behind the scenes.

Now the Director of Fantesca Estate and Winery in Napa and the Co-Founder of Wine Unify Foundation, he continues to be a passionate ambassador in the fight to champion diversity and inclusion for underrepresented minorities in the wine industry.

Learn more about DLynn and Fantesca here
Follow DLynn, @wineauxdlynnp
Follow Wine Unify Foundation, @wineunify

SUKARI AND SHOMARI BOWMAN
Bloggers, Love and Vines

Shoman-Bowman-Love-Vines
Sukari-Bowman-Love-Vines

Sukari and Shomari Bowman are the sister-brother duo behind the blog, Love and Vines and podcast, The Color of Wine. With wine being a passion of Sukari and Shomari being a chef in Atlanta, they decided to team up and create Love and Vines, where they aim to “passionately cultivate your soul through food, wine, and music.” 

Recognizing that there was a lack of representation of the black community within the wine industry, they set out to create their podcast and provide a platform for people of color in the wine industry to share their stories. Interviewing winemakers, sommeliers, wine educators, wine store owners, vineyard managers and more, the duo draws listeners from around the world interested in unlocking wine’s intrigue and power. 

Learn more about Sukari and Shomari here 
Follow the blog, @loveandvines
Follow The Color of Wine Podcast, @thecolorofwine

These 15 black wine professionals are bringing necessary, overdue innovation and improvement to the wine industry and we’re happy to support this change.

While consumers of many product types are being mindful about where they spend their dollars, let’s also work towards making a conscious effort to support Black-owned wine brands and professionals in their endeavors. 

Now go show your support to them by heading to Instagram and giving them a like, follow and a share! 

Cheers to this positive movement in 2020!