Amid a tumultuous summer, Americans are talking about racial inequality in a way we haven’t since the civil rights era. This includes those in the wine world, where the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) have decided that, if change is going to come the industry, it must come from within.
Earlier this week, the 75-year-old trade association, which represents 550 wineries throughout Napa Valley, announced plans to invest more than $1 million in efforts to help bring more diversity to the wine industry and make it more inclusive. As part of the plan, the group is allocating money towards scholarships and mentoring programs aimed at welcoming more Black, Indigenous and people of color into the industry.
In a press releasing outlining the initiative, NVV it said it will partner with the United Negro College Fund to create a new scholarship fund for “people of color to pursue college degrees in wine industry subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more.” The group pledged to put $200,000 towards the fund each of the next five years, but has launched a fundraising effort to increase the commitment going forward. Additionally, the organization will direct another $100,000 to set up mentorships with Wine Unify and Batonnage, two California-based groups that are seeking to bring more inclusion to the wine world in Napa and beyond.
“The NVV represents one of the world’s premier wine regions and strives to be a leader in all aspects of the industry,” Linda Reiff, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We recognize our nation is at a critical moment to finally end centuries of racism and to dramatically increase diversity, inclusivity and opportunity, including in the wine industry. The NVV believes our community and industry should be open and welcoming to people of color, whether working here, visiting the valley or enjoying our wines anywhere.”
The NVV is not the first group to step up and try to make the American wine industry more inclusive. Food & Wine points out that a trio of wine industry heavyweights led by Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, Jr. launched The Roots Fund, a group seeking create more financial support, mentorship opportunities and job placement for people of color in the industry.