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Get to Know the Many Black-Owned Wineries in California

Get to Know the Many Black-Owned Wineries in California

Success stories abound throughout the Golden State, from Napa and Sonoma to less likely destinations including Laguna Beach and San Diego County

Posted a year agoby Tina Caputo

A couple decades ago, you would have been hard-pressed to identify more than 20 Black-owned wineries in the United States; today, there are approximately 70, including more than two dozen in California. While fewer than 1 percent of American winemakers today are Black, according to the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV), the numbers are on the rise.

Launched in 2002 with just three winery members, AAAV has seen a 500 percent spike in membership since 2020 alone. Last year, the California-based association awarded 36 scholarships to help pave the way for more people of color to join the ranks of America’s wine professionals.

“We have made some progress on increasing diversity in the wine industry, but not nearly enough,” says Phil Long, founder of Longevity Wines in Livermore Valley and president of the AAAV. “We are just now beginning to create awareness that Black-owned wineries even exist. The only way to create diversity in the wine industry is to support Black wine professionals so that they succeed and can serve as inspiration for others to follow.”

One such success story is McBride Sisters Wine Company in Oakland, founded by sisters Andréa and Robin McBride. Since launching their business in 2005, McBride Sisters has grown to become the country’s largest Black-owned winery.

“We were up against many challenges when we started in the industry, but one of the more frequent obstacles was not being taken seriously,” Robin says. “We were constantly questioned about our understanding of the industry, and our ability to produce great wines.”

While this was frustrating, adds Andréa, it presented them an opportunity to grow and create a new sector in the wine industry that uplifts women of color into influential roles in the wine business.

“We create wines that are meant to be enjoyed by all, not just the upper echelons of wine enthusiasts,” she says. “Our mission is always to lead by example and cultivate community, in the hopes that other businesses in our industry will follow suit.”

With this in mind, the sisters emphasize the importance of supporting Black-owned wineries in the Golden State. “California can set the stage for the rest of the industry, and there are many incredible winemakers to support in the region,” Robin notes. “We all need to help open more doors that have been closed to people of color for too long.”

Here are 10 Black-owned wineries that are well worth supporting, either through a tasting-room visit or by purchasing a few bottles to enjoy at home.

Theopolis Vineyards, Yorkville

Trial lawyer Theodora R. Lee, also known as Theo-patra: Queen of the Vineyards, founded Theopolis Vineyards in 2003 when she planted and developed her five-acre vineyard in Mendocino County’s Yorkville Highlands. Theopolis is known for its rich Petite Sirah, along with Pinot Noir and a white wine made from the French hybrid grape Symphony.

Corner 103, Sonoma

Founder Lloyd Davis developed a passion for wine while working as a financial advisor for a New York wine retailer, and later, as controller of Sonoma’s Viansa winery. Davis created a chic, contemporary lounge space at Corner 103 where all are welcome to explore the winery’s approachable, elegant wines, from Grenache Blanc to Albariño to Zinfandel.

Brown Napa Valley, Napa

After years of growing grapes and selling them to local wineries, the Brown family’s second generation launched their own brand in 1996 and became Napa Valley’s first Black-owned winery estate. Visit the Brown Downtown Napa tasting room to sip juicy Zinfandels, plush Cabernet Sauvignon, and crisp Rosé in a stylish setting with exposed brick and rich blue hues.

J. Moss Wines, Napa

Small-lot Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the focus at J. Moss Wines. The winery’s founder, James Moss, learned his craft working alongside former Opus One winemaker Mark Jessup and Gustavo Brambila, former Chateau Montelena winemaker. Guests are invited to taste J. Moss Cabernets by appointment at the urban winery’s courtyard in Napa’s Crusher Wine District.

McBride Sisters Wine Company, Oakland

Robin and Andréa McBride were born to the same father but didn’t learn of each other’s existence until adulthood. Along with finding each other, they discovered their mutual love of wine. In 2005, they joined forces to launch McBride Sisters Wine Company in Oakland. Focused on empowering and inspiring Black women, the McBride Sisters brands—from Black Girl Magic to She Can canned wines—reflect the sisters’ own personal stories.

Longevity Wines, Livermore

Phil Long founded this urban winery with his late wife Debra in 2008 after the couple outgrew their garage “winery.” Today, Longevity Wines pours bottlings from Livermore Valley and beyond in its cozy, barn-themed tasting room, or on the patio. Whether you love bubbles, Pinot Blanc or Rhône-style reds, Longevity has you covered. 

Charles Woodson’s Intercept, Paso Robles

Former NFL player Charles Woodson fell in love with wine during training camp in Napa Valley, and later created the affordable line of Charles Woodson’s Intercept wines as a way to give back to his fans. In line with Woodson’s own preferences, the winery focuses on bold, medium-bodied reds from Paso Robles, including a popular Petite Sirah–based blend.

The Vice, Los Angeles

Headquartered in Los Angeles, The Vice is all about small-batch Napa Valley wines. Moroccan-born cofounder/winemaker Malek Armani is both a trained sommelier and a Team USA triathlete. Along with a variety of impressive reds, The Vice offers two intriguing “orange wines” and a Sauvignon Blanc Rosé.

McClain Cellars, Orange County/Central Coast

McClain Cellars operates four bright, modern tasting rooms across Laguna Beach, Solvang, and Buellton, where visitors can chill and sample Santa Ynez Valley wines. Tech entrepreneur-turned-winemaker Jason McClain offers a variety of options, including the Kayla’s Crush Cabernet Sauvignon–based blend, and a Rhône-style blend called the Risktaker. Each month, McClain features a curated flight to benefit charities such as the United Negro College Fund.

Altipiano Vineyard & Winery, Escondido

After losing their avocado grove to wildfires in 2007, Denise and Peter Clarke replanted their land with grape vines and released their first Altipiano Vineyard and Winery wines in 2012. Now, Denise crafts Italian-style wines including Barbera, Primitivo, Aglianico, and more. Join the Clarkes for a seated tasting by appointment at their Tuscany-inspired vineyard estate in San Diego County.