Becoming a Sommelier is no easy accomplishment. The road to being a sommelier requires years of practice, long studious nights, passion, and determination. The opportunities and amount of sommeliers in the world are very few, sommeliers of color are just a handful. Obtaining the title of a Sommelier, or wine steward, is one of the highest achievements in the wine industry, and it’s about time we recognized them.
Continue reading to learn about the 10 Rising Black Sommeliers To Know.
André Hueston Mack
André Hueston Mack is an American Sommelier, winemaker, and author. Mack was the first African American to win the title of Best Young Sommelier in America. He has also been featured in Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits Magazine, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. This recognition allowed him the opportunity to work as a sommelier at Thomas Keller’s world-renowned The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Speaking of which, check out my blog on Behind the Scenes at The French Laundry here. Winemaking has always been a dream of his and came to life when he set up shop under the moniker of Maison Noir Wines.
André loves sharing his fondness of wine with others.
Check out the Maison Noir Wines website here to try some of André’s fabulous wines.
Carlton McCoy Jr.
Carlton McCoy Jr. was one of the youngest candidates ever to achieve Master Sommelier status in 2013, and is one of only two African American master sommeliers. After working at top East Coast restaurants, he was promoted to Wine Director at The Little Nell in Aspen. Now, Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Jr. has been hired as President and CEO of Napa Valley’s Heitz Cellar.
Who wouldn’t want to try the best wines from the famous Carlton McCoy Jr.?
Cha McCoy is the Founder of Cha Squared LLC, a consulting company that focuses on tourism, gastronomy, and hospitality experiences. She received her MBA in Italy, allowing her to drink, eat, and create relations in over 20 countries. Her admiration for wine led her to study as a wine professional, achieving her Certified Sommelier, and is recognized as the Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers.
Cha McCoy is an advocate for food equality, sustainable practices, and proper revitalization of urban neighborhoods using hospitality.
Cha McCoy has been featured in Food & Wine, Essence, Cherry Bombe, and so much more. Can’t wait to see what she does next!
DLynn Proctor has been a famous figure in the wine industry for over 20 years, getting him the title of ‘Best Sommelier in America’ by Wine & Spirits Magazine in 2008. He is passionate about his work and often contributes to food and wine content for TV shows and magazines. DLynn is one of the four featured subjects in the internationally acclaimed wine documentary ‘SOMM’. Read more about the Somm III Movie Premier in San Francisco here.
Be sure to check out the movie ‘Uncorked’ on Netflix. It follows the story of a young Black man’s dream of becoming a Master Sommelier. DLynn was a producer on this awesome film!
Be sure to check out DLynn’s amazing wines at Fantesca Estates that’s located in St. Helena, California. Check out the Top 10 St. Helena Wineries You Must Experience on my blog here.
Diana Hawkins left her corporate job to follow her passion for wine. She has worked at some of the top Chicago restaurants after becoming a Certified Sommelier. Diana moved to New Zealand to pursue her Master’s in Wine Science and now is an Assistant Winemaker at McBride Sisters Collections. Can’t wait for her to do another California harvest in 2021.
Be sure to follow Diana Hawkins on her winemaking experiences.
Lydia Richards’s passion for wine began while living in Paris and having the opportunity to travel to multiple wine regions. After becoming a Certified Sommelier, Lydia moved to New York and founded her private wine education, tastings and events company, Vino Concierge. Check out Lydia Richards’s Vino Concierge website here.
Lydia Richards started Vino Concierge because she noticed the gap in the wine industry. Aside from being Black, she is also an Afro-Latinx immigrant to the country, an even smaller percentage in the industry. Amplifying these voices is one of Richards’s main goals while she’s in the wine industry.
Tahiirah Habibi created The Hue Society to counter the lack of diversity she noticed as she worked as a sommelier. It curates events and connections, offers mentorship and other programming for under-represented people in the wine industry. Habibi joined Carlton McCoy to launch the Roots Fund Initiative, providing scholarships and job placement to diversify the industry.
Tahiirah Habibi has accomplished so much, looking forward to her future success.
Tanisha Townsend is the Chief Wine Officer of Girl Meets Glass, a wine lifestyle and education agency. She currently lives in Paris, France where she creates wine and food pairing experiences for tourists and teaches wine courses at universities in Paris. She holds the WSET Level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits and French Wine Scholar certifications.
Follow Tanisha Townsend’s journey in Europe on her website, Girl Meets Glass here.
Titus Green’s long passion for exploring the ancient beverage motivated him to become a Certified Sommelier. Intimidated at first, instead of giving into fear, he decided to strengthen his knowledge and understanding of wine. Titus Green is now the Assistant Wine Director at Del Frisco’s Restaurant in Washington D.C.
In an interview, Titus was asked if he has been treated differently because of his skin color, his response was “Once I get suited-up, nothing else matters.”
Tonya Pitts is globally known as a multi-talented wine professional. She is a leader who champions diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, food, and beverage industries. Tonya has been a judge for the San Francisco International Wine Competition for five years. Also, the annual Wine Spectator list longer than a decade. Check out Tonya Pitts Wine Consulting website here.
Having known Tonya, she is amazing. Her main priority is to support Female Winemakers in the Wine Industry. We last enjoyed a glass together at another Moet Hennessy Event, read about the International Women’s Month with Veuve Clicquot here.