Terroir Noir Study: Inclusion, Equity Needed In Wine Industry

Monique Bell, Ph.D., has released an inaugural study of Black wine entrepreneurs
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Photo: Uncorked & Cultured

NEW YORK, NY, JULY 2021 -- Marketing professor and wine business researcher, Monique Bell, Ph.D., has released an inaugural study of Black wine entrepreneurs that captures survey data collected in the aftermath of the global pandemic and civil unrest in 2020.

Survey participants, who represent a diverse spectrum of businesses and professional expertise, completed the online survey in late 2020 amidst pandemic-related losses and renewed civil rights and “buy Black” movements.

The Terroir Noir: 2020 Study of Black Wine Entrepreneurs survey respondents answered multiple questions related to their motivations for wine entrepreneurship, experiences with racism and other challenges, perceptions of the wine industry’s inclusion efforts, business strategies and practices, and the impacts of COVID-19. Black-owned wineries account for less than 1 percent of all U.S. wineries, while Black people typically make up more than 10 percent of American wine consumers.

A majority of survey participants (43%), which represent wineries and other wine businesses, report that financial capital is the primary business roadblock to their business. Bias/racism was cited by 20% as the number one challenge, in general, for Black wine businesses. Further, more than half of respondents (58%) are neutral or disagree that the wine industry is taking meaningful action to be more inclusive of underrepresented groups.

“I am grateful to the Black wine business community for welcoming me during a very trying time and sharing their valuable insights for this important study,” says Bell, who performed the research during a sabbatical at the Fresno State Craig School of Business and subsequently founded Wyne Belle Enterprises. “The opportunity to connect with wine entrepreneurs inspires me to pursue further research and has opened pathways to increase exposure to and awareness about underrepresented groups in traditionally exclusive industries.”

The survey is the first of its kind among trade reports and academic examinations, and it will be followed by studies of Black wine professionals and consumers, respectively. Bell and her California State University colleagues, including Liz Thach, Ph.D., M.W., of Sonoma State, are currently analyzing more than 40 in-depth interviews with Black wine entrepreneurs.

“In illuminating Black entrepreneurs in the wine industry, Dr. Bell has identified an important gap in the global wine industry and in our collective knowledge about wine entrepreneurship,” says Liz Thach, Distinguished Professor of Wine and Professor of Management, Sonoma State. “As a wine business educator, writer, and consultant, I’ve sought to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to the forefront, and the Terroir Noir study will help further the industry’s progress.”

It was through Bell’s research that she met Angela McCrae, founder of Uncorked & Cultured, and joined the media platform centered on wine, wellness, culture, and adventure as Chief of Cultural Insights and Partnerships. McCrae and Bell, both graduates of Morgan State University, launched the Sip Consciously Directory, a comprehensive resource of more than 100 Black entrepreneurs in the three-tier wine distribution chain. Importantly, the directory enhances Black visibility in the $70 billion wine industry where less than 1% of wineries are Black-owned. The evolving resource connects wine lovers with Black-owned brands, distributors, and retailers, and is complemented by the growing Sip Consciously YouTube video series.

“With knowledge there is power, so it’s important for Uncorked & Cultured to be a destination and resource for consumers and the greater wine industry to understand Black wine entrepreneurs exist and the challenges we face in the industry,’ says Angela McCrae. “We’re filling a void and creating solutions to connect, not just Black winemakers and entrepreneurs with consumers, but also with mainstream brands and major distributors for an opportunity to tap into a far too often overlooked demographic.” The study of Black wine entrepreneurs can be accessed at www.moniquebell.com/wine. Exclusive content will be available at www.uncorkedandcultured.com where many of the survey participants are listed in the Sip Consciously Directory at www.uncorkedandcultured.com/sipconsciously.

Monique Bell is a tenured Fresno State marketing professor who provides engaging learning experiences and researches the intersections of business and culture. Through her interest in wine business and marketing, Dr. Bell has earned the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 certification. Monique formed Wyne Belle Enterprises to provide wine business content and consultation. She also serves as Chief of Cultural Insights and Partnerships for Uncorked & Cultured, home of the Sip Consciously directory. Dr. Bell earned her doctorate at Drexel University, where her dissertation earned the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Social Science Dissertation.

Uncorked & Cultured is a media company that curates original content, consumer research, e-commerce and global experiences to consciously connect consumers with brands that share the same ideals. A destination for culturists to hang out with a glass of their favorite vineyard selection; wellness practitioners share knowledge from our ancestors; and global entrepreneurs provide roadmaps to a life well-lived. Our journey is to share content that’s centered in Culture & Elevation, as a solution to the lack of inclusion in the global luxury, travel and wine industries.

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