(San Jose Mercury News) — In honor of Black History Month, the soul food restaurant 1300 in San Francisco offers a prix fixe menu this month that not only pays homage to fine American comfort food, but to African-American winemakers. I’m always looking to highlight diversity in the wine business because, as my blunt, East Coast-born husband likes to say when I drag him to industry tastings, “Why is everyone here white?”
It’s a fair question. While it’s true that only 9.7 percent of wine drinkers are African American (less than the country’s African-American population, which is 13 percent), 36.7 percent of African Americans drink wine, according to a 2010 report by the Beverage Information Group. But they are far less represented in the winemaking scene — until now, perhaps. A recently reorganized Association of African American Vintners is hoping to change that through education and marketing, executive director Jill Bates says. The association currently has six members, but at press time, I counted a dozen wineries in California where either the winemakers or owners are African American.