Here is a rundown of the wines we presented on the Social television segment Trailblazing Black Winemakers, February 1, 2023.
It was not long ago when the topic of black winemakers was ultimately unheard of. The statistics on the shockingly low number of winery licenses given to people of colour would give you pause, especially when looked at as a share of population. Of course, the topic of land ownership and its divide has made it very difficult for people of colour to own vineyard-sized plots of land in attractive grape growing regions around the world. Despite this, the concept of the 'black winemaker' as a rarity is starting to change, and today's segment on the Social shows us just that.
Today on CTVs daytime television show the Social, we kicked off Black History Month by highlighting a few wines made by black winemakers. You will get a chance to taste almost all of these on February 15 at our Black Grapes event.
Wines Featured on the Social, Black History Month Segment
2020 Folklore, Niagara Peninsula
Winemaker: Steve Byfield
Winery: Nyarai Cellars
I often call Steve the ‘mix master’, not because of his
DJ skills but because of the incredible blends he comes up with, year after year.
Steve has an astounding knack for understanding a vintages makeup and what each grape variety will add to the assemblage. Blending truly is his thing.
Steve started out working in wine retail. Through his tenacity and viticulture studies, he got to apprentice as a winemaker. The rest, as they say, is history. Steve now owns the wine label, Nyarai, and is the head winemaker there.
The name Nyarai (African origins) means ‘to be humble’. Steve also says the Folklore wine was crafted in gratitude for our ancestors' struggles, sacrifices, and hardships.
In addition to making magic in a bottle for Nyarai, he also makes wine for other brands.
Three wines from the Nyarai collection will be featured at the Black Grapes event on February 15th.
2020 Chenin Blanc, South Africa
Winemaker - Gynore Hendricks
Winery - Great Heart Wines
Gynore Hendricks was born in Malmesbury, Swartland, South Africa. While her path was not set in stone, like many, she got hit with the oenology bug that makes you curious about all things wine.
Gynore earned a degree in Viticulture and Oenology from Elsenburg Agricultural Institute. Gynore was then accepted to the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege program in 2017. This highly coveted appointment takes star Viticulture and Oenology students and provides them with internships at some of the area's top wineries and vineyards.
Gynore's last internship with the program landed her at the Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines estate. Here, she was hired full-time as an assistant winemaker and offered her own brand to run and manage, 'Great Heart Wines'.
The Great Heart Wines project is managed by Gynore, and she is the head winemaker there and shareholder.
Great Heart is unique in its setup. All of the employees at Great Heart own a percentage of the business. They are paid dividends each year as shareholders. Gynore shared with me how much this program has helped the vineyard team and others in their family.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Gynore, and she is a talent. She is a brilliant and an immensely intelligent wine force that we will hear more from. I am glad to be able to show her wines on the Social and at the Black Grapes tasting event.
2020 HER Shiraz
Winemaker - Praisy Dlamini
Winery - HER Wine Collection, South Africa
Though Praisy Dlamini is the winemaker, I need to start this off by talking about the project as a whole.
The idea behind HER Wine Collection was to form a wine brand run and managed by black women at every step of the way, from grape growing and winemaking, to marketing and distribution.
The HER team has overcome significant obstacles to achieve career success. To show gratitude through action, they pledged to contribute 2% of their profits to a scholarship fund to enable young, talented, driven individuals to achieve their dreams.
Their Shiraz wine is a reflection of their passion.
Horseshoes & Handgrenades
Winemaker - André Mack
Winery - Maison Noir
André Mack is a sommelier, winemaker, author, and designer. In fact, his book 99 Bottles is one of my favourites.
André found his passion for wine while working in hospitality in Texas. There he soon became recognized for his skill as a sommelier and that led to him landing craved jobs at the famed French Laundry in California, and Per Se in New York.
Mack finally decided to jump both feet into winemaking when, in 2007, he founded Mouton Noir Wines.
What I like about André is that he is his authentic self, something that can be hard when you are the only black sommelier in the room. His authenticity shines through in all his wines, including our featured Horseshoes & Handgrenades.
André's depth of knowledge, drive, and overall professionalism have paved the way for many of the young sommeliers emerging on the wine scene today.
Horseshoes & Handgrenades will also be featured at Black Grapes.
Join Us For Black Grapes
An evening of celebrating black winemakers and agents from around the world.
In wine, the term ‘black grapes’ is used to describe the grapes that go into making red wine. On February 15th, however, we’re using the term to celebrate wines with contributions made by the black community to celebrate Black History Month.
Join us for a walk-around tasting and sample wines by some of the trailblazing black winemakers out there.
Get tickets here.