Black-owned wineries tell the story of their craft and how business in the Central Virginia region is ripe for growth.
‘Wine doesn’t have to be this untouchable and unreachable societal thing.’
Black-owned wineries are among the smallest minority of winemakers. Still, Central Virginia is proud to have two: Sweet Vines Farm Winery in Orange County and A Taste of Harmony in Charlottesville.
Seidah Armstrong, owner of Sweet Vines Farm Winery, is a third-generation winemaker; her great-great-grandmother and great-grandmother both made wine from muscadine grapes. But, for Armstrong, her 120-acre farm is more than winemaking; it’s an opportunity to tap into her family’s rich heritage and history. Armstrong sources most of her grapes, but she has a 1-acre parcel dedicated to Muscadine grapes in honor of her predecessors, along with an ancestor’s garden and strawberry and blueberry crops used to make fruit wines.
“Our winery offers tastings of our wines. We host special events and private events like weddings and birthdays, and we have a bus that will take you to boutique wineries that you may not typically know about,” Armstrong says. “We have a charming, rustic tasting room with a fireplace, and we’re in the process of building out our overnight accommodations.”
Matthew Harmon, the Charlottesville-based proprietor of A Taste of Harmony, wants to break down preconceived notions about who should drink wine, saying, “Do you have a mouth and a glass?” Harmon dove into the wine industry partly because Black winemakers are such an underrepresented group. He offers in-home tastings, private events and pop-ups featuring his line of wines.
“Going to wineries and not seeing people who look like me there, I wanted to create a safe space for people to see that wine doesn’t have to be this untouchable and unreachable societal thing,” he says. “It can be daunting going into a winery, and I wanted to make it a simple and enjoyable experience. People in Central Virginia are doing incredible things in the wine industry and are working to tell the story of winemaking in the right way.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia.