Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Here’s the truth: standing up to racism against the Black community is not a political isue. It is also not purely an American issue, but a global one.
Why does it matter that French wine brands, exporters, and importers speak out against racism not only in the American Black community, but the Black community throughout the Western world? Because this is a group of people that has been repeatedly targeted, enslaved, tortured, and victimized by a society that strongly privileges those of us who are white. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I also believe that the Black American community has a right to know which French wine and spirits producers, exporters, and importers have spoken out against racism.
There are many reasons as to why I chose to track and publish this list. The first is simple: it is financial. Recent reports show that 20% of total exports in the French wine and spirits industry come to the United States. And of the French wine consumers in the United States, a significant percentage of them are Black. And a higher percentage of affluent Black people purchase more expensive, imported wine and spirits.~ From this data, we can conclude that, since France is the home to some of the most expensive wines and spirits in the world, Black consumers are purchasing and enjoying them as much as their white counterparts are – or at the very least have the potential to do so. And the collective buying power of the Black American community is estimated annually to be $1 trillion.
So really, this is a business decision. If you as a French wine and spirits producer fail to mention or support the Black Lives Matter movement, you will stand to lose a good portion of your profits. And what’s more, given that a large number of white, Latinx, and Asian Americans who purchase French wine are clearly also standing up for justice and against racism, letting your feelings of solidarity known to us so that we can throw our purchasing power behind those brands we know are kind and accepting of Black Americans is a wise decision.
Second, oenotourism was (before coronavirus) a booming industry, and an industry that was growing. In France, vineyards and tasting rooms are investing in refurbishments, tours in English, and expanding their wine education programs. We as Americans are familiar with oenotourism – arguably our Napa Valley was among the first regions to build it out. Black Americans have the right – as all other Americans – to feel safe and accepted when they choose to travel to France and tour French vineyards, distelleries, and regions generally. They should not be subject to racist comments or setups, such as only allowing them to taste sweet wines or Cognacs, or assuming that they do not have the money to spend on a case of wine. They are entitled to the same tasting experience that their white counterparts receive, but the harsh reality is that they do not often get that, and it has nothing to do with language and everything to do with the color of their skin.
Last week, I heard a lot of trash talk, and I was disappointed in my French friends, fellow influencers, and company partners for their inability to support the movement. “But our restaurants are open, it’s time to celebrate!” “There is no such thing as French racism.” “You Americans think your problems are everyone’s problems.” You all have to take a long hard look at your society and decide how you will proceed. In the mean time, I am choosing transparency, I am choosing activism, and I am choosing to represent and spread the word about those French companies and partners of French companies who have decided to speak out.
Some have just posted in solidarity. Others have made promises we will hold them to. Both are valid places to start, and it is for that reason I am honoring both in this post. Herebelow is the full list. I will update as more join.
LIST LAST UPDATED: 6/15/20
6) Marie Césaire Champagne [Website] – BLACK OWNED!
8) Charles Heidseick+ [Website]
17) Domaine de l’Epicurieux (Beaujolais) [Website]+
23) Domaine de l’Oustal Blanc+ (Languedoc) [Website] – BLACK WINEMAKER!
~Sources: https://vinepair.com/articles/wine-industry-black-consumers-marketing/; https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2018/black-impact-consumer-categories-where-african-americans-move-markets/
+ Confirmed via direct message with the winemaker.