From RTD cocktails and non-alcoholic mixers to complex wines, flavorful craft beers, and decadent spirits, the presence of Black-owned beverage brands on the shelves of grocery stores, wine shops, and other establishments is becoming commonplace. With a buying power of over $1.6 trillion, Black consumers are incredibly influential and yet woefully unconsidered when it comes to marketing within the alcohol industry. And while the industry still has a diversity problem, supporting Black business is vital to ensure that there is proper representation across all sectors of the business.
Being Black spans beyond living in America, and Black culture is not a monolith — our lived experiences are widely diverse and span across multiple continents. The impact of people across the diaspora in the wine and spirits world also includes Africa and the Caribbean. As the beverage industry strives to become more inclusive, here are some brands with African roots that deserve to be celebrated.
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Since launching her wine brand in 2016, Ntsiki Biyela has become one of the most iconic winemakers in South Africa. After receiving her degree in agriculture from Stellenbosch University in 2003, Biyela became the winemaker at boutique winery Stellekaya. Aslina, which is named to honor her maternal grandmother, has multiple award-winning wines from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon within its portfolio that are available online and in retailers across the United States.
Created by childhood friends Kwame Darko and Daniel Orrison, DARKO Wines represents optimism, legacy, passion, and purpose. When designing the label, Darko thought it was important to use the wine as a vehicle to bring awareness to his Ghanaian heritage and support rural villages, but also to plant the seeds (no pun intended) for a fruitful legacy. DARKO currently offers one bottling, which is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah.
As the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum, Equiano is a multi-award-winning brand that honors the legacy of writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano. Sold into slavery as a teenager, Equiano ended up in the United States and sold rum to purchase his freedom. As part of the company’s mission, two of Equiano Rum’s four founders Ian Burrell and Aaisha Dadral donate $2 from every bottle sold to ground-level freedom and equality projects every year.
Established in 2018, this millennial-owned tequila brand hails from the Windy City. A child of immigrants from Ghana, founder Uduimoh Umolu created the name to honor his grandfather, whose first name is Jon, and Basil, the last name of his grandfather’s godfather, who made it possible for him to attend college in the United States. Jon Basil, which offers a blanco and reposado, is available in over 350 retailers across Illinois.
Zimbabwe-born sommelier Tinashe Nyumudoka discovered his passion for wine while working on the wait staff at Cape Town fine-dining restaurant The Roundhouse. His interest grew while he learned from the restaurant’s beverage director, leading him to become an award-winning wine steward. In 2017, Nyumudoka launched Kumusha, which means “your roots” in his native Shona language.
Inspired by the celebratory Hatian drink krémas, husband-and-wife team Myriam Jean-Baptiste and Stevens Charles created LS Cream Liqueur as a way to honor the grandmothers, aunts, and mothers who created their version of the iconic recipe. While the recipe for LS Cream is under lock and key, it can be served over ice or in a cocktail.
Founded in 2017, Wachira Wines is affectionately known as the “California wine with a Kenyan accent.” Dr. Christine Wachira is a winemaker, distributor, importer, and exporter who chose to create wines that celebrates her Kenyan-American experience. The company currently offers red, white, and sparkling wines, and also has a tasting lounge in Alameda, Calif.
Owned by a family from the Cape Verde Islands, Sosabee (meaning “fun” in the Cape Verdean language) represents wines that are crafted from small vineyards across Napa Valley. Sosabe Cellars offers a range of wines, from its Juvenal Red blend, which honors the family’s patriarch, to Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville, Calif.