The best of wines, from Louis Roederer Rosé champagne to Malbec Vino – Robb Report

The big idea: the wine wakes up

We raise a glass to the transition to the diversification of wine culture that has begun in earnest over the past year. In the UK, the Gerard Basset Foundation generates funds through its Golden Vines auctions to support BIPOC candidates interested in a career in oenology. “Inclusiveness and diversity are big problems to solve in the wine world,” says Lewis Chester, CEO of Liquid icons, which participates in the financing of the Gérard Basset Foundation. “We have to create role models.” Big names, such as Dom Pérignon and Taylor Fladgate, have pledged to advance these efforts, creating on-site opportunities for lab and cellar internships and sponsoring grants to help students pursue the rigorous and expensive master’s degree. wine certification. From a business and cultural perspective, he believes a more inclusive wine industry will be more successful and enjoyable. “Companies that are more diverse do well,” says Chester. “The wine has been completely undiversified. There are historical and economic reasons for this, which led many minority groups not to be exposed to wine. It is now a question of social justice. We all need to do our part to modernize and allow anyone with ability to rise to the top.

Chester says the United States is doing the best so far. University of California, Davis, known for his oenology programs, is leading the way. Professor David Block has seen his department increase Latinx student enrollment over the past decade through strategic outreach. Now he is expanding those efforts to include other BIPOC communities. “A year ago, we decided to increase diversity in other ways. We have had very few minority and black students in our programs. What can we do to recruit and retain these students? ” he says. “The State of California can’t award scholarships based on diversity, but we can get a more diverse applicant pool.” Through connecting with high-level leaders, such as former professional basketball star Dwyane Wade and writer Julia Coney, who can serve as ambassadors for wine education, further progress has been made. made. Block points out that organizations such as the Napa Valley Winemakers and California wineries such as O’Neill and Delicate also offer scholarships or assistance to BIPOC students.

One of the pioneers of inclusivity is the sommelier Yannick Benjamin. Last year it opened Contents, a restaurant built to accommodate people with disabilities. Benjamin became personally aware of the lack of inclusivity in the world of wine after a car accident in 2003 left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. It tells the story of a muscular woman who dines at Contento because she not only knew there were suitable seats and tables, but also that her staff were trained to be sensitive to her needs. Another ingredient of this culture is Benjamin’s own presence. ” It’s very rare [for] restaurant with a disability to have the opportunity to be served and cared for by someone from their community,” he says.

And his philosophy could also apply to other underrepresented populations: the more we see diverse individuals operating a vineyard, making wine, harvesting it and pouring it, the more interesting and welcoming the world of wine will become.

Shirley M. Pinder