Netflix’s new original movie “Uncorked” released over the weekend highlighting an industry many are unfamiliar with — the wine industry. The film followed the journey of main character Elijah as viewers witnessed his path to becoming a master wine sommelier.
The film highlighted a huge cultural shock in the industry for African American consumers and called attention to the widely-untapped market.
According to the Wine Market Council, African Americans make up about nine percent of wine drinkers in the U.S. and they make up an even smaller population in the U.S. that accounts for those knowledgeable of wine.
It’s become increasingly challenging for people of color to break into the industry, especially women.
“Women of color have more of a challenge—No.1 because nobody expects them to know much about wine,” Mac McDonald, president of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV), told Forbes.
People within the industry are working hard toward a community for emerging Black-owned wineries to create more opportunities and support systems for the niche business.
Organizations like the AAAV are trying to change diversity in the wine industry by creating a scholarship fund for aspiring Black sommeliers.
“My sommeliers on my staff now are all young, primarily women, African American. But we have probably the most diverse wine staff in the city, and one of the most diverse wine staffs in the country,” City Winery Atlanta beverage director James Brim told Fox 5 Atlanta.
He added, “They are all incredibly eager and it’s awesome to see that they won’t have the struggles that I have. When they walk into the room they see familiar faces and it’s just incredible to see they are so driven and so passionate for the next generation of African Americans.”
Brim recently hosted an event to help highlight Black wineries, sommeliers, and others making their mark in the wine industry. This event like many others offered Black people in the business an opportunity to network with their peers and feel included in an industry where they’re often shut out.
Kelly Hawkins, brand ambassador of La Fête du Rosé explained to Fox 5 Atlanta what it means to be Black in the wine and spirits industry.
“Being a black-owned wine and a black-owned brand and being black in wine spirits, these types of events help us to get the exposure that we need and to let the audience know we are here and willing to be represented.”
Thanks to Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign, “Uncorked” was able to provide exposure to audiences through a unique storyline further proving that Black people have interests that lie in unconventional industries.