African-American Vintners Form New Organization

Association aims to promote wine to a wider base of consumers.
Jan 2, 2003

It's no secret that the vast majority of wine consumers in the United States are white. You'll find proof at any large wine event. But if the newly formed Association of African American Vintners has its way, consumers of every color will feel more welcome at the tasting table.

"I realized there was a great need," said Mac McDonald, 59, owner of Vision Cellars in Sonoma County and one of the founders of the AAAV. "I don't think the wine industry has done enough to reach the African-American market, the Latino market or even the gay and lesbian markets."

The goal is to expand on a program that McDonald has been pursuing on his own, pouring wines for African-American wine clubs around the country and organizing tastings for groups such as 100 Black Men and the National Conference of Black Mayors. A public tasting is also in the works, and a viticultural scholarship for a student of African-American descent has also been established.

If black wine consumers are small in number, then black vintners are even rarer. So far, the AAAV has only three members in addition to Vision: Sharp Cellars in Sonoma, Poston Crest Vineyards in Calistoga and Bates Creek in Napa.

McDonald launched Vision Cellars with the 1997 vintage. He produces fewer than 1,000 cases of wine a year -- almost exclusively Pinot Noir -- in Windsor, north of Santa Rosa. His latest release is a 2000 Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($45).

Self-promotion, McDonald explained, is only a small part of the association's goals. "To me," he said, "it's all about getting folks to drink wine."

For more information, visit www.aaavintners.org.

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