Whitney and Chaz Gates are a powerhouse couple who make up less than one percent of Black winemakers.
The duo leads WONDRY, a wine company that caught the attention of billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban during ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
On season 14, the Gates pitched their company to Cuban alongside the other judges. They were looking for an investment of $185,000 for 8 percent equity.
Ultimately, Cuban was reeled in and agreed to an offer of $225,000 in exchange for 15 percent equity.
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Launched in 2021, WONDRY offers a 100 percent natural line with fruity extracts that include berry, citrus, and indulgent premium extracts.
After 12 months of being in operation, the company expected to rake in an estimated $60,000 in profit and $250,000 in sales.
Founders Score Multi-Year Partnership With Southern Glazer’s
Since then, the Gates have continued to flourish and are ringing in the new year with more good news. According to information provided to AfroTech, the co-founders have signed a multi-year partnership deal with Southern Glazer’s, the world’s largest spirits and wine distributor.
“Signing a multi-year partnership deal with Southern Glazer’s, the world’s leading distributor of alcoholic beverages, is and will quite possibly be the most pivotal milestone in WONDRY’s history,” Chaz told AfroTech in an email interview. “As a small business, there are so many obstacles we face that prohibit us from successfully scaling our business. Lack of proper funding, equipment, retailer relationships & staff can all be critical hindrances to success. But, when you layer on the fact that we represent the less than one percent of winemakers who are Black, there is an added layer of limitations that come with simply lacking a seat at the table.”
He continued: “Our partnership with Southern Glazer’s represents a door opened, additional access to retailers, states, stakeholders, countries, and consumers we couldn’t have engaged on our own. This milestone will make our dream to shatter glass ceilings by filling glass bottles a true reality and hopefully enable us the opportunity to open doors for those behind us.”
The couple’s success can be credited to a labor of love that dates back years before WONDRY’s inception. Whitney spent eight years learning how to create a line and cultivate a distinct flavor and it took affirmation from her husband to turn a dream into a full-blown business.
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Leading With Purpose
In a perfect pairing, Chaz leads product and innovation for the brand and has helped produce all the products, while Whitney deals with marketing and consumer-facing elements of WONDRY. Together, they hope in building their brand they can inspire others to relentlessly chase their dreams.
“We learned very quickly who & what we represent to our Black community as the less than 1 percent of American winemakers who are Black,” Whitney said. “We want to demonstrate the power of perseverance & pursuing your dreams against all odds; the strength in challenging the status quo despite social/cultural convention. Years from now when people think of WONDRY, we want them to envision a Black girl & Black boy who weren’t afraid to take on the likes of giants because they had faith in who they were & what their ancestors called them to be.”