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.
The 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.