Black-Owned Wineries Headline Festival on Martha's Vineyard

Heading towards its second year, Soul of Sonoma on the Vineyard (SoSMV) is hoping to introduce Black-owned wineries to Martha’s Vineyard. The gathering, which began as a one-time event to promote Soul of Sonoma’s California wine tours, will return to the East Coast in August.

This year the event’s theme is “La Vie en Rose” and will focus on rosé wine. Guests are asked to wear “hints of blush and pale rose” to mark the annual wine and epicurean festivities.

“Rosé is still on-trend, and even wine experts are digging a bit deeper in their reviews and acknowledging that rosé can exhibit some of the same taste complexities as well-made reds and whites,” Soul of Sonoma’s founder Patrice Davenport told “This is an exciting time for wine because the invigorated interest in rosé has given connoisseurs and the broader industry a new horizon to explore.”

Attendees will participate in a “progressive tasting from Black-owned vineyards,” including selections chosen by Davenport. Winemakers from Charles Woodson Wines and Theopolis Vineyards will guide guests through their wine tasting experience and will be sharing their knowledge on rosés.

SoSMV guests also will have a chance to test new rosé wine selections from Paula Harrell’s award-winning P. Harrell Wines collection. Premium ticket holders will have “an exciting experience” thanks to wine and spirits veteran Donae Burston.

The event will feature Chef Deon Thomas who will provide food pairings for the wine selection. The Jamaican native, who opened his first restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard in 2001, now operates a small Caribbean restaurant out of a The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US (VFW) hall in Martha’s Vineyard. Thomas provided gourmet food for last year’s Soul of Sonoma on the Vineyard.

Tickets for SoSMV, which range from $125 to $150, will not be sold at the door.

Davenport launched Soul of Sonoma as part of her first business, 1865 Company, she told the AFRO. The company, which focused on high end gifts that reflected African American heritage and culture, was behind the Legacy Cellars Club, the first wine club to exclusively feature Black-owned premium wine brands.

The company now does tours and wine tastings at Black-owned vineyards in Napa and Sonoma County. Soul of Sonoma has featured tours and tastings ranging from $185 to $225 as well as a monthly wine club for $65. Private events, which include dinner parties, bachelorette parties, picnics, and golf outings, run between $85 and $280 per person.

In 2018, the company expanded to the East Coast to provide tours, tastings, and exclusive access to Black-owned wineries. Soul of Sonoma also researched and reached out to Black-owned wineries and vineyards across the mid-Atlantic region to help Black wine drinkers identify which brands to support.

“We have heard from many affluent African Americans and others about their desire to support Black-owned businesses while sharing the pride of Black-ownership and cultural experiences with their peers,” Davenport told AFRO.

Apart from the now-annual event on Martha’s Vineyard, Davenport said she hoped to soon open up a “Northern California-style” tasting room on the East Coast.

A 2017 Wine Market Council report based on a poll of 2,512 US wine drinkers found that a majority of wine drinkers are white (71 percent), followed by Latinx (14 percent), and African Americans (9 percent). Only 3 percent of wine drinkers surveyed identified as Asian and 4 percent identified as “mixed race/other.”

Just 7 percent of African American wine drinkers identified themselves as “high frequency” wine drinkers, compared to 74 percent of wine drinkers who were white and 13 percent of Latinx respondents.

The survey revealed other characteristics of wine drinkers. Geographically, the study showed that many wine drinkers come from California (12 percent), Florida (9 percent), and Texas (8 percent).

Wine drinkers were also spread across generations, with Baby Boomers making up 36 percent of respondents, Millennials for 33 percent, and Generation X for 21 percent.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.