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Wine sales in the USA are huge. Many of us regularly buy vino from Trader Joe’s, BevMo’s, or other discounters. Wine, in moderation, is also very healthy for modern folks, and it remains a great afternoon/evening respite from noise, craziness, anxiety, stress and just general unease. In these days, with more craziness surely to come, we all need a guaranteed go-to relaxation associate.

Regarding health benefits, wine (both red and white) has recently been shown by multiple researchers (including those at Johns Hopkins Medical School) to be beneficial in increasing anti-oxidants, boosting the immune system, increasing bone density, promoting longer life spans, reducing risks of contracting type II diabetes, reducing risks of strokes and heart disease, lowering high cholesterol, and increasing cognitive functions (focus, mental sharpness, etc.). Sounds like a wonder drug, I know, but the caution is these benefits are for moderate drinkers (5-ounce glass servings, once a day for women, twice a day for men), not for heavy drinkers or winos. The benefits reverse into high risks with over indulgence.

In California, especially, this news comes with the added benefit of knowing that besides being well represented as vino consumers, African Americans are also consummate makers of the juice. There are several excellent Black vintners in the mix, including the Rideau Vineyard in Santa Ynez (Solvang) specializing in Pinot Noir, the Brown Estate Winery (Napa Valley), the Sterling Brothers’ Esterlina Vineyards (in Sonoma and elsewhere in California), Dan Glover’s L’Objet brand (meaning Black Object) and Everett Ridge Winery (Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma), which is also owned by the Sterling Brothers.

Former rapper E-40 also got into the vino game, opening a winery in Napa Valley with his own label, called Earl Stevens Selections. But the list is much longer than that, including Theopolis Vineyard in Anderson Valley, the Charles Wine Company, out of Temecula Valley, the Marke Wines near U.C. Davis, and the Heritage Links Brand out of Los Angeles (which also imports and distributes South African wines).

Although all of the Napa County and Solvang area vintners sustained some damage or smoke-related impact from the recent California fires in those areas, most of the African American wine makers seem to have survived that roasting, and are still in business. They all certainly still have websites and promotional materials in public.

As a last comment, a couple of years ago there was a major flap in Napa Valley as the Napa Valley Wine Train called the police on a substantial group of African American women (Sistahs on the Reading Edge, a book club) who were riding the vehicle through wine country. The group of ten women was accused of talking and laughing too loudly and thus disturbing other customers, and the police escorted them off the train. Rather than to chase Black vintners away from continuing to produce wine and participating in building the reputation of California’s wine country,  Black vintners in the area created their own wine-tasting and tourist outlet, called the Napa Valley Wine Soul Train, which still operates, taking riders to Black and Latino-owned wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. It started with a single bus and has now evolved into several buses and a train.

This is another lesson on the regular theme—If you want respect, many times you have to create your own. A toast to our staying on it, one more time.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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