Throughout the month of August, Wine Spectator will spotlight Black voices during its Instagram Live series, Straight Talk with Wine Spectator, highlighting the achievements of industry leaders from wineries, restaurants, distributors and other aspects of the wine business.
Straight Talk with Wine Spectator is a new Instagram Live series featuring conversations with wine and food newsmakers. The live chats kicked off in early April amid widespread shutdowns from the COVID-19 crisis, in order to shed light on the changes and challenges these industries are facing, and have since expanded into regularly scheduled programming. (All previous episodes are archived on our IGTV channel for viewing anytime.)
The series kicks off Aug. 4 with Wine Spectator executive editor Thomas Matthews and Heitz Cellar CEO Carlton McCoy. McCoy is a Master Sommelier and former wine director at Grand Award–winning restaurant the Little Nell in Colorado. McCoy joined the iconic Napa winery in 2019.
On Aug. 6, Matthews interviews Mac McDonald, owner and winemaker of Vision Cellars. The Sonoma-based winemaker fell in love with Burgundy-style Pinot Noir at an early age, and focuses on making complex Pinot Noir in California. McDonald is also the founder and chairman of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV), a voice for Black-owned wineries and winemakers.
The following week, senior editor James Molesworth interviews both Brenae Royal (Aug. 11) and Will Blackmon (Aug. 13). Royal is the vineyard manager at Monte Rosso, one of California's most historic vineyards, which dates to the late 1800s and is now owned by E. & J. Gallo. Nicknamed "The NFL Wine Guy," Blackmon is a Super Bowl champion who founded the Wine MVP, a client-based service that tackles personal wine buying, educational opportunities, private events and a monthly subscription wine box.
On Aug. 18, Julia Coney, veteran journalist and educator, will speak with Matthews about her work as an advocate for diversity in the wine industry and as founder of Black Wine Professionals, devoted to finding and developing talented new voices. André Hueston Mack, sommelier, vintner and author, joins Matthews on Aug. 20. Mack got his start as a sommelier at the Palm in San Antonio, and eventually became head sommelier at chef Thomas Keller's Grand Award–winning restaurant Per Se in New York. Mack later founded his Oregon wine label, Maison Noir, in 2007, and also became a restaurateur and wine shop owner with & Sons, a ham bar in Brooklyn, and neighboring Vyne Yard.
Terry Arnold (Aug. 25) is senior vice president of human resources at the nation's largest wine wholesaler, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits. Matthews will talk with Arnold about his time as a captain in the U.S. Army, his work developing and implementing policies to manage and motivate Southern's 20,000 employees and his efforts with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Matthews will also interview Tonya Pitts on Aug. 27. She's wine director of One Market Restaurant in San Francisco, overseeing a 600-selection list that holds the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. She serves on the advisory board of Wine Unify.
Tune in to Straight Talk on Wine Spectator's Instagram page, every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Plus, keep an eye on our schedule for bonus chats during the day with winemakers from Europe and other regions outside the Americas.