As more and more consumers like myself take up the 15% Pledge to spend 15% of their money on black-owned businesses, and also want to celebrate and support the work of women entrepreneurs, I thought it would be useful to create a list of black and female winemakers as a handy guide.
The perfect person to curate this list is Ruben Morancy, Wine Director and Certified Sommelier at the wonderful Adams Wine Shop and Restaurant, who has long been a champion of black and female winemakers. The Adams Wine Shop is a specialty boutique wine shop focusing on wine produced by women and BIPOC, wherever they may be in the world. It’s part of the fantastic Alta restaurant which has become a much-loved community favorite in West Adams.
Formerly the wine director at Coi in San Francisco, Ruben is developing a program of both special occasion wines, as well as delicious wines under $30 per bottle for everyday drinking.
I caught up with him to find out more about his journey and who he would recommend.
Afdhel Aziz: Ruben, welcome. Please tell us a little about your journey to be a wine expert, from your early days in Haiti – what drew you to wine?
Ruben Morancy: My career in the food and beverage industry spans 35 years professionally. My earliest memories of being in a professional kitchen goes back to when I was 7-8 years old spending the weekends with my grand mother in the kitchen at the grand Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince where she was in charge of the kitchen. Fast forward to the mid-eighties, my family moved from Haiti to NYC and shortly after to Philadelphia.
I sought a job working in a restaurant at the age of 16 and continued on from there. Wine has been a part of my learning experience since I began working in the industry so many years ago. Attending wine tasting events and seminars has been a regular educational part of my career and that’s what consequently drew me to focus on a career structured more on wine.
In the late 90’s, I made the decision to study and work with wine solely. I spent a year working at K&L wine merchants in San Francisco where on any given day I would have access to tasting 20-30 different wines from all over the world. I was able to soak up information about varietals, soils, climate, etc., which distinguishes a wine from producer to producer and place of origin – an incredibly fascinating aspect of wine that I had never taken into account before.
In the early 2000’s, I spent 5 years working as an account manager for ‘The Estates group’ in San Francisco, in the fine wine division of Youngs Market company – the 2nd largest wine distributor in California. It was also there that I got to see and understand the many layers of the wine industry from production to distribution. I have also studied at the Court of Master Sommeliers of America, I am a certified sommelier. During my career in food & beverage industry, I have also worked in some well- known restaurants, most recently I’ve been the wine director of Coi restaurant in San Francisco, a 2 stars Michelin rated institution and now as one of the founders of Adams wine shop.
Aziz: Thank you for sharing that. Who have been some of the pioneers in the black winemaking story you admire?
Aziz: And who have been some of the pioneering women winemakers?
Morancy: Ntsiki Biyela at Aslina, Frances Leighton at Kalin Cellars, Anna Maria Abonna in Italy, Theodora Lee at Theapolis Vineyard, Elisabetta Fagioli at Sono Montenidoli are some of the pioneers.
Aziz: Awesome. Finally, let’s talk about your Top 10 favorite wines from black and women-owned winemakers?
Morancy: Generally speaking, I like all these wines because they are very well made and are varietally correct. I very much like to pay close attention to purity of fruit and the approach of the producer’s attention to quality, method, and style.
- Aslina Cabernet and Sauvingon Blanc
- Thomas T. Thomas Vineyard Pinot Noir
- Anna Maria Abonna Dolcetto
- Kris Curran Grenache Blanc
- Sono Montenidoli- Elisabetta Fagioli Vernaccia
- Brown Estate Zinfandel
- Maison noir O.P.P Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris
- Kalin Cellars Semillon
- Vision Cellars Pinot Noir
- Theopolis Petite Sirah
Aziz: Thanks Ruben! Finally what’s next for you in terms of your journey in wine?
Morancy: I am currently focused on growing Adams wine shop in the community of West Adams which has welcomed the shop with great enthusiasm. All these wines are available here, come and check it out!