Last year, she scored a coveted job with the winemaker Murphy-Goode after breaking the internet with a viral application video. Now, she’s learning the ins and outs of the wine industry, living rent free in Sonoma, and enjoying unlimited wine. We talk anti-racism in the wine world, the beauty of the oak barrel, and what she’s doing next.
On Working Her Dream Job
It’s been so crazy. I can’t even really put it into words. I keep pinching myself. We’ve been working in the cellar, learning the wine-making process from start to finish. From harvesting the grapes to pressing them, digging out the tanks after everything’s done, the fermentation process—literally doing the hard work that comes with harvest. Before this, I read all about wine and regions and everything, but you just don’t get a full understanding unless you’re truly immersed in it.
On Being Part of a Movement
So it’s really weird. Even just with getting this job, and before that when I started the Instagram account, I was just putting my face out there and my name up there and seeing what happened. And sometimes when you start ventures, especially something like this, where there’s already such huge names in the industry that are Black and that are elevating Black voices, you get a little bit of imposter syndrome. And you have to push through it. But then upon getting this position at Murphy-Goode, I was like, yes. Like, I’m good. I have it. I feel like I can definitely belong in this industry.
On Changing the Conversation Around Wine
Two or three years ago, I was reading articles about how wine brands purposely market sweet wines towards Black communities, because that’s what they think Black people like. And, you know, I think that with changing the conversation, it’s about getting people to see that wine is not just the sweet red wine that we used to drink in college. Not knowing that, that’s not people’s fault. That’s the fault of the marketing companies. But I’m passionate about showing our people that there’s a whole other world out there, so that they can say, “no, no, no we don’t want this in our grocery stores or our corner stores.” We want the quality stuff that you’re marketing to other people. It’s about opening people’s eyes to more than just what the big wine companies assume they like.
On Wine as an Everyday Artifact
Every single part of the winemaking process has such a special, unique story. I’m learning the stories of these harvest workers that come back 10, 15, 20 years later—this is their 20th year working harvest. And then the winemaker himself [or herself], like Dave Ready, will use Minnesota Oak on these wines because that’s his way of paying homage to where he’s from, his hometown. You can just see and feel the passion in every aspect of it. And when you know the winemaker’s story or the winery’s story, and then you drink the wine, it just makes it that much more special.
On the Importance of the Barrel
You can have new French Oak barrels, which is what adds that, well, oakiness to some wines. Or you can have neutral Oak barrels, so they don’t add anything, but they still help the wine fully form the flavor that it’s supposed to have. And so, like, Dave Ready, who is the winemaker for Murphy Goode, he does a red blend. He blends all these wines together, puts them in barrels, but he puts them in an oak that was made in Minnesota, cause he’s from Minnesota.
On a Wine She’ll Always Love
I love drinking syrah because it’s warmer and spicier. It’s just a really good sit by the fire and sip type of wine. I love Merlot, but that’s just the nostalgia for me, because my parents drink Merlot. And so we’re at home for Christmas, and I’ll go home and drink Merlot with my parents. It’s cold. It’s snowing in Pennsylvania. It’s those two wines.
On Wine She’s Outgrown
When I started drinking in college, I was buying the really big $12 bottles of yellow tail Pinot Grigio, or, you know, the drink Franzia. And it’s like a white Zinfandel and it’s kind of sweet. Usually when you first start out, that’s how you get into wine, and then you start to try other things that are a little bit more refined. I’m not knocking sweet wine. But yeah, wines like that, I would say I’ve definitely outgrown just as I’ve gotten older.
On Wine that’s Overrated
So to me personally, then, an overrated wine is a pinot grigio, but that’s because I drank so much of it in college. I stayed away from white wine generally after college. I just had pallet fatigue. But now, I’ve been gaining a new appreciation for it. A piece of advice would be, if you do think you’ve outgrown something, go back. If you haven’t had it in a couple of years, just go back to it.
On Her Future
Last year when I first started on this journey, my goal was to own the first black owned wine bar in Austin. Then obviously this job changed everything. Right now, I mean, it’s definitely a couple years down the road, but I love digital marketing, and there’s so many young, black winemakers that are starting out making their own brands. And so I think it would be really cool to create an agency to help these upcoming brands jumpstart their marketing and branding for their wineries. My mission is to elevate black voices and black people in the wine industry, that’s kind of naturally where I feel like I had to end up going.