After Phil Long and his late wife Debra moved to Northern California during the early naughts, they found themselves so enamored with the winemaking culture that they started making syrah in the garage of their three-bedroom house. 

Their hobby turned into a small business in 2008 with the opening of Longevity Wines in Livermore, 45 miles east of San Francisco. Today, the Black-owned winery’s Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel and other varietals can be found in 4,000 stores, including Total Wine & More, Food Lion, Fresh Market, and, this spring, in Sam’s Club. Longevity produces 3,500 cases a year — seven times as many as it produced its first year.

Interior shot of the Longevity Tasting Room. There is a large structure outlined with lights. There is are wine barrels stacked on the right and a long wooden table in the middle. You can see a man, a woman and a dog peeking through the door in the back of the room.
Longevity Wines is located about 45 miles east of San Francisco © Ron Essex Photography

After experiencing his own success, Long’s mission is to help other Black-owned wineries grow through his role as the president of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV), which provides scholarships, mentoring, and marketing for Black and minority winemakers.

“The people who make wine should be as diverse as the people who drink wine,” Long says. 

Long became president of the association just before the Black Lives Matters movement unleashed a groundswell of support for Black-owned businesses, including winemakers. AAAV, which sells its members wines on its website, saw more online orders during the first two weeks of June than in all of 2019, Long says.

A glass of wine with a bit of wine at the bottom rests on a concrete ledge
The Association of African American Vinters (AAAV) works to provide mentoring and marketing for Black and minority winemakers © Adrienne Pitts / Lonely Planet

Within the past 14 months, the association’s membership has skyrocketed from 18 to 130 wineries and wine brands in 15 states. 

“I went from being the president [of AAAV] to the spokesperson for African American wine industry overnight,” Long says. 

Starting a winery requires amassing significant capital and land, which have been historically denied to Black Americans. Additionally, most Black wine owners don’t come from wine-producing families who can pass along generational knowledge.

“When Europeans came, they came with grapevines in their pockets. We all know [Black Americans] didn't get here this way,” Long says.  

An informal survey of AAAV members reveals that getting loans and establishing the necessary relationships to grow their brands are the biggest challenges for Black winemakers.

Pouring red wine from bottle into glass with wooden wine casks on background
Black-owned wineries © Africa Studio / Shutterstock

“My biggest challenge was connecting with industry leaders in each channel of the wine business,” says Vice Wines founder Malek Amrani. “Access remains a challenge for many entrepreneurs in our industry, perhaps even more when the newcomer is perceived as an outsider, not only in the US, but globally."

Striking the right relationships helped Longevity grow, Long says. A partnership with Bronco Wine Co. to distribute his California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and the help of a publicist, who got the wine and its heart-filled label on national TV shows, including HBO’s Big Little Lies to CBS’ Big Bang Theory, raised the national profile. Making those connections is one of AAAV's missions.

The role comes at a challenging time for wineries, many of which had to close their tasting rooms due to the global pandemic. 

"Wineries that previously depended on tasting room visits and sales have had to compensate for lost revenue,” Long says. Longevity recently resumed outdoor tastings and hopes to restart indoor tastings soon.

While most members are Black or minority-owned, any vintner can join the association to help the cause, he says. Wine drinkers can also buy wines from these 10 Black-owned wineries.

A woman wearing a black dress smiles at the camera while holding a glass of wine. In the background is a grape vineyard.
Chrishon Lampley's Love Cork Wine is just one aspect of her business © Christian De'Mar / Love Cork Screw

Love Cork Screw

In addition to several wines, the Chicago winery’s website also sells candles, body butters, coasters and an assortment of apparel. 

Cheramie Wine

The year-old Texas winery sells its first wine, an off-dry riesling, on its website.  

Jenny Dawn Cellars

The Wichita winery ships its 11 varietals within Kansas and 37 states. 

Shoe Crazy Wines

Based in Richmond, Va., Shoe Crazy sells its sweet and dry wines in regular and mini bottles you can purchase on its website or in retailers in five states. They also sell non-alcoholic wines. 

Ole Orleans.jpg
The Olé Orleans winery has been in operation for three years © Courtesy of Ole Orleans

Olé Orleans

The three-year-old New Orleans winery offers virtual and in-person wine tastings where you can try its reds, whites and rosés. If you’re shopping online, pick up its Louisiana-map shaped cutting board. 

Philosophy Winery& Vineyard

Maryland’s first winery run by African American women, the winery’s inaugural vintage, the 2019 Reign Rose, can be shipped to 14 states and DC. 

Sip & Share Wines

The Indianapolis winery’s seven vegan wines incorporate feel-good messages. Buy the Gratitude Red Blend and Manifest Chardonnay in regular or sample-sized tasting bottles on its website.

The Vice Wine

The maker of Napa Valley wines sells gift boxes, wine bundles and individual bottles on its website. 

Mermosa Wines

The St. Petersburg winery sells its bottled and canned roses and sparkling whites online and in stores in Florida, Texas and Oregon.

Coronado Vineyards

The Wilcox, Ariz., vineyard sells its riesling, cabernets and other wines in their tasting room. They also ship within Arizona.

You might also like:

5 Black-owned hotels for your next East Coast getaway 
A new Black-owned Bourbon company plans to open a distillery in Kentucky 
Here's where to go to visit the best wineries in the world 

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