Florida woman Desiree Noisette founded her wine brand Mermosa four years ago, and today she’s recognized for making history as the state’s first-ever Black woman winemaker, Click Orlando reports.
According to the outlet, it was Noisette’s family’s own love story that inspired her to create her own wine company.
“Mermosa is inspired by our family’s first mermaid. Her name was Celestine Noisette,” she recalled of a story that goes back to the late 1700s when Celestine met and married a white Frenchman named Phillipe in Haiti. “Then shortly after they moved to Charleston, South Carolina. And when they moved to Charleston, Phillipe, unfortunately, had to protect his family from being sold into the slave trade because his wife was black and his children were mixed.”
Phillipe reportedly wrote a fake bill of sale to purchase his wife and children, but the state of South Carolina denied his petition. Nonetheless, Phillipe continued his efforts to save his family and even wrote in his will that when he died all his belongings and money would go to his wife Celestine so she could “sneak her and the kids to a northern state where they can be free,” Click Orlando shares.
However, Celestine took matters into her own hands and opted to remain in Charleston where she ran their family business. She then convinced the will executor to come up with a legal loophole that would allow her and the children to stay in the state as free people. In the end, they all eventually gained their emancipation and retained ownership of their land and family business.
Celestine’s inspiring story is what prompted Noisette to follow her own path as a winemaker and build upon her family’s legacy.
“Her audacious spirit and their eternal love are infused in every sip of Mermosa,” Noisette told TravelNoire. “This story stokes the fire in my heart and my determination to honor this remarkable woman, who I’ve always believed was the original mermaid.”
Prior to becoming a winemaker, Noisette told Click Orlando that she previously practiced construction law for many years before switching career paths.
After opening a swimwear store in downtown St. Petersburg, FL, Noisette then began calling wineries across the country to share her business idea about the kind of wine she wanted to make and ask for help. She later connected with a winery in Oregon that showed her the ropes of the wine industry.
“We would learn from the experts how to break things down, how components were supposed to come together and to me winemaking isn’t that much different,” Noisette said to Click Orlando. “I learned from experts how to do wine formulations and got my winery license and set up a lab and started doing wine formulations about four years ago.”
Similar to how Celestine’s resilience made history and broke the chains of slavery, Noisette is also setting out to break barriers to make the wine industry more inclusive for Black women and people of color.
“It’s exciting on one hand to be the first at something, but then it’s also I don’t want to be the last,” Noisette shared with Click Orlando. “I feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure that we have programs in place and that we’re supporting organizations that help cultivate more folks, more ladies of color to get into the wine industry.”
Noisette’s hopes are that her story creates change in the wine industry and inspires others to find the inner mermaid in themselves just as Celestine did.
For more information about Noisette’s brand Mermosa, visit its website.