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Saturday 25 October 2014

African-American wines served at White House

6th August, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Wines by African-American winemakers were served at the White House this week at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit dinner.

Barack ObamaThe African dignitaries, including South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, were served Black Coyote 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Vision Cellars 2010 Las Alturas Pinot Noir among others at the official dinner on Tuesday (5 August).

The Sauvignon Blanc was served with gazpacho and the Pinot Noir with grilled dry-aged beef with chermoula and crispy plantains.

A sparkling wine from Virginia, a rapidly rising state in US wine production, Thibault-Janisson brut “Monticello” was served with dessert.

During the dinner, President Barack Obama raised a toast to Africa and guests were entertained by Lionel Ritchie.

Wines served at the White House for state functions receive a boost in terms of prestige and according to Bloomberg, the winemakers of Black Coyote and Vision hope that their example will inspire more black Americans to get involved in winemaking.

Ernest Bates, founder of Black Coyote and formerly one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons, told Bloomberg he had “always wanted to be a pioneer”.

“We want the world to know that African-American and Hispanic-American people, once they’re given the opportunity, can succeed and make a product that’s as good as any,” he said.

Mac McDonald, founder of Vision Cellars, said it was the “beginning” of a change in culture but added that wine drinking among African-Americans was less advanced than among other US ethnicities.

There are just a dozen or so prominent black winemakers and winery owners in the US, mostly in California.

The Association of African-American Vintners was created in 2002.

There is often interest in wines served at state banquets and Obama has been in trouble before, with allegations he served “cheap” wine to French president François Hollande, as well as angering the Champagne lobby by serving American “Champagne” at his inauguration dinner in 2013.

8 Responses to “African-American wines served at White House”

  1. Bob Nathaniels says:

    Does anyone else find this kind of racist grandstanding offensive? It never occurs to me as to the ethnicity of the winery owner of the wine I drink, is that actually important to people? Would you buy more or less knowing the nationality of the owner – in fact would you intentionally buy more wine if you knew the owner was non-white? I didn’t think so…like me you buy wine you like and that’s affordable and that’s about it.
    Once again we have a “leader” infusing race into a free market issue- no one cares but the people who solicit funding based on the perception that non-white people aren’t capable of running any business, let alone a winery. Please stop helping us Obama, we want the day to come where you don’t see our color any more- a good business, a bad business- my color should have nothing to do with it and media driven performances like this frankly only hurt. Stop promoting (and financially aiding) businesses based on the ethnic characteristics of those who own and run them, I would be offended to learn people only bought my product because of the color of my skin and not the quality of my work.

    • JustSayin says:

      Bob,

      I don’t see it as racist at all. Sounds to me as if he is just giving an opportunity to and pointing out award winning wine makers that are of African American heritage. A rarity in their field.

      You never notice the field of grass, only the lone flower standing in it.

      I would hope this would give inspiration to some younger potential wine maker that did not grow up around the culture of wine makers that they have an opportunity to pursue and become award winning wine makers themselves.

  2. Al Weed says:

    Too bad they didn’t invite Wisdom Oak Winery, a Virginia farm winery, to submit wines. They are owned by an African American couple who are each deeply involved in the winery operations. Their scenic winery is at the end of a long windy road just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, every mile of which is worth the effort.

  3. Donelle Lynch-Saich says:

    I agree with Bob. Now winemaking and wine drinking is being made a race issue?! I don’t care if the winemaker is black, white, Hispanic, man, woman, Trans, Gay or whatever! Sounds like the whole event at the White House was racially slanted… Black wines, African dignitaries and Lionel Ritchie. LMAO! I need a glass of wine;)

  4. Kate says:

    Great story! The Sterling family also makes great wines from Mendocino County, Calif., via their Esterlina and Everett Ridge brands.

    Bob, that’s interesting you find it offensive. If an Irish leader came to the U.S. and my wine was served at the White House to showcase the contributions of Irish-Americans to our country’s winemaking history I would be thrilled, not offended.

  5. carolyn says:

    yes, I tend to buy form my African brothers more, especially if their product is good. knowing my deep African history of this country who kept my African ancestors down and to some extent still do, you bet.

  6. brothazbevintnin says:

    deez brothaz be makin some good wine. i wish dey woulda had sum of E-40’s wines. those iz da heataz and deserves to be served to the most famous black man in americah baracc obamah.

    peace to the zulu nation

  7. On June 5th, 2005, President George W. Bush held a dinner at the White House celebrating “Black Music Month”. At that dinner he served wines from 3 African-American owned wineries, Sharp Cellars, Vision Cellars and Esterlina Winery. Some of the guests were African-American dignitaries from the from the field of music in America. It is very prestigious to have one’s wines served at the White House. Only outstanding wines receive the opportunity and we deserve recognition for our accomplishments. As co-founder of the Association of African-American Vintners, I can only praise President Obama as I praised President Bush, even though I didn’t vote for the latter.

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