Dwyane Wade, Julia Coney Join U.C. Davis Executive Leadership Board

Plus, Oregon’s Domaine Serene moves into the Portland Trail Blazers' Moda Center

Dwyane Wade, Julia Coney Join U.C. Davis Executive Leadership Board
NBA legend and Wade Cellars co-owner Dwyane Wade is committed to diversifying the student body of U.C. Davis' wine program. (Metelus Studio)
Oct 22, 2021

The University of California at Davis, one of the world's leading centers for wine research, introduced three new members of its Viticulture and Enology Department Executive Leadership Board this week: three-time NBA champion and Wade Cellars co-owner Dwyane Wade, wine writer and Black Wine Professionals database founder Julia Coney and Silverado Farming Company partner and Davis alum Miguel Luna.

They join the 26-member board of directors for U.C. Davis’ wine department, chaired by Dr. Laura Catena of Argentina's Bodega Catena Zapata. The board is composed of industry leaders, educators and other invited members who assist the department in socially and economically elevating the wine community. In Wade's case, he hopes to increase diversity and accessibility in an industry he once found intimidating.

The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation has provided more than $3.7 million in scholarships to more than 900 students of U.C. Davis’ Viticulture and Enology Program.

"I felt the shift U.C. Davis wanted to make with inclusion and diversity in a big way," Wade told Wine Spectator. "Once we got a chance to talk and communicate my role and the impact I could make, it was a no-brainer to join the board. I am very honored to have one of those seats … I'm looking forward to it."

Viticulture and Enology Department chair David Block explained the three newest recruits will help the board realize its goals, including broadening the diversity of the student body. “We've been working for a long time on diversifying the student population of Davis,” he said. “We have been over the last 10 years focusing more on Latino students, and we made really good progress—from like 3 to 5 percent 10 years ago to now 25 percent.” He added that new recruitment efforts are in place, but there’s still more to be done. “We can do better, and we can include more diversity as well.”

“[Wade] is able to reach a broad audience,” Block said, “with 18 million followers on Instagram, including younger people who would be interested in potentially becoming wine consumers, or to go to school at U.C. Davis. It is a more diverse demographic as well, which is great for the wine industry and for us.”

Block also praised Coney’s work as a writer and communicator, and her thoughtful approach to recruitment. “She has repeatedly said to me, ‘Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint; think long-term.’”

Silverado Farming Company and La Pelle Wines partner Miguel Luna]
Silverado Farming Company partner Miguel Luna (Suzanne Becker Bronk)

Luna, a Mexico native who started working in Napa vineyards as a teenager and is now a partner at viticultural firm Silverado Farming Company, has already been informally mentoring and recruiting students. “I am committed to making sure students see viticulture, enology and the wine industry as a great career path,” Luna said in a statement issued by the university. “I am also committed to educating immigrant parents to navigate the American school system to ensure first-generation Americans are prepared to succeed in higher education.”

Wade added that he wants younger wine lovers in his community to follow an easier path. "I'd love to be able to build something that one day becomes accessible and can speak to the community I am a part of," said Wade. "The U.C. Davis brand needs to be seen [in] and associated with [the Black community], and we have to go to the community—we don't need them to come to us."

"I feel that I can communicate and help guide people trying to look for more information, or to become part of the world I'm a part of,” Wade said. “If this is something that you want to do, enter it with ears open, eyes very wide, and enter it the way you want to."

Domaine Serene’s Moda Center Wine Studio]
Domaine Serene’s Moda Center Wine Studio (Courtesy of Domaine Serene)

Domaine Serene Wine Studio Debuts at Portland Trail Blazers Arena

The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers organization and its players—especially CJ McCollum—are leading the league in wine appreciation. To kick off the 2021-’22 season, the Blazers and Oregon’s Domaine Serene have teamed up to create a 7,500-square-foot Wine Studio in the Moda Center, which will showcase large-format bottles, winery and vineyard photography, player-signed bottles and jerseys and views of the homecourt. And there’s plenty of Domaine Serene wine to drink, too.

"Domaine Serene’s partnership with the Portland Trail Blazers goes far beyond a traditional sponsorship arrangement," Domaine Serene CEO Ryan Harris told Wine Spectator via email. "I’m confident that no other venue in professional sports combines a luxurious, winery-inspired atmosphere with excellent wine service and commanding views of the court of play."

So what can fans drink during the game? Harris says the studio will serve Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve Chardonnay and Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir. The Evenstad Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have each appeared among Wine Spectator's Top 10 Wines of the Year (No. 2 in 2016 and No. 3 in 2013, respectively).

The Moda Center Wine Studio is the Dundee Hills estate’s third off-site tasting room, following the 2018 opening of Domaine Serene’s downtown Portland and Lake Oswego locations. A fourth tasting room is slated to open in Bend later this year.

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