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“Black Vines” Puts Oakland-Based Black Winemakers at the Center of the Table

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Oakland will be hosting events throughout the month of February to showcase black winemakers, most from coming from the East Bay. The annual Black Vines festival is a “winter celebration of culture, art, and wine education that brings together Black artists, Black musicians, and Black winemakers and vintners” that will culminate on Feb. 23 but there will be plenty of opportunities to sample the goods before the big day.

Bars around town will be participating in “Wine Wednesdays” on Feb. 6, where thirsty patrons can sip on some truly unique creations. For example, Payback Bar will begin offering glasses filled with wine from Free Range Flower Winery, an already award-winning newbie in the industry that chooses to create wine from fermented flowers instead of grapes. Founder and winemaker Aaliyah Nitoto drew on her studies in biology, herbalism and nutrition to keep an old but often overlooked tradition alive. “It’s been done for hundreds of years by women and other people and I just want to bring it back out into the light,” Nitoto told KCBS Radio.

Wine Wednesdays will continue to rotate the eight showcased wineries throughout bars in Oakland for mid-week tasting accompanied by live music. In addition to Free Range Flower Winery, McBride Sisters Collection, P. Harrell Wines, Stover Oaks Winery, Theopolis Vineyards, Vix Sangria by Topaz Vineyards, Bass Note Sangria and Wachira Wines will be on rotation to satisfy your curiosity and delight your palate.

All this happy drinking will culminate in the 8th Annual Black Vines festival at DeFremery Park on Adeline Street Feb. 23. Tickets to the event will run you $60 but will reward your taste buds with music, culture, art, a keepsake glass, delicious hors d’oeuvres and of course samplings of some of the most amazing adult juice the East Bay has to offer.

It is no secret that white winemakers – no, not Zinfandel – have had a stronghold in the industry but as Forbes pointed out, they have traditionally shunned black consumers as a target audience. Events like Black Vines not only embrace wine lovers of color, but pushes beyond boundaries to showcase the complexity of flavors and innovation that black winemakers are bringing to the table, and it is long past due.

Head over to Oakland beginning Feb. 6 to support local, black winemakers as they boldly make their mark in the industry and then pick up a few bottles to keep up that “support” at home.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.