Marcia Jones, Donna Stoney and Eunice Chiweshe Goldstein are “first” ladies in their own respective ways. As Black women, these three trailblazers are using their voices to lay the groundwork in the steps to embracing racial diversity in the wine industry.
While their journeys to becoming experts in their fields have all been different, each of these wine mavens share a common goal: they are confronting the wine industry’s lack of diversity and paving the way for equity and inclusivity.
Founder of Urban Connoisseurs — an organization with a mission to support “sustainable growth in the Black vintner community” through consultation, distribution, sales and marketing — Jones has another project up her sleeve. She is the executive producer, co-director and writer of “Journey Between the Vines: The Black Winemakers’ Story,” a documentary that is still in the works and is the first of its kind, telling the intimate stories of the lives of six Black winemakers.
“I wanted to humanize wine,” Jones says. “Oftentimes we drink wine and we don’t think about the human behind the label.”
She was inspired to tell these winemakers’ stories from getting to know many of those featured in the film on a personal level. “The winemakers are mostly first-generation, they didn’t inherit a vineyard and most of them switched careers to pursue their dream,” Jones adds. “Some of the interviews are very emotional, that’s the side we don’t normally see of a winemaker.”
Through both her filmmaking and networking endeavors in the wine industry, Jones’ goal has always been to be a helping hand to the wine industry’s slow, but sure, progression to diversity.
“I want audiences to experience wine on a different level,” Jones says. “I’m hopeful that telling this story is going to help the next generation say, ‘If they can do it, so can I.’”
In addition to being one of the few Black Oregon winemakers, Stoney first made history in 1978 as Oregon’s first Black female case manager for Multnomah County’s developmental disability services agencies. Prior to fulfilling her lifelong passion for wine by opening Stoney Wines in 2019, she led a distinguished career in social work.
“These two careers do intertwine,” Stoney says. “Both require a lot of patience, time and understanding.”
After a long career in social services, she carried over the notion of helping people and unifying her community into a winemaking business. Stoney worked under the guidance of Bertony Faustin — Oregon’s first Black winemaker and owner of Abbey Creek Vineyard — to release her first wines.
“One of the biggest lessons I took away is staying authentic to who I am and what my brand represents,” she says about her time working with and learning from Faustin. Stoney Wines is built on the foundation of strengthening relationships over a glass of wine. Steeped in family connection and pushing for inclusivity and unitedness, Stoney is laying the foundation for other Black winemakers to follow suit.
“I hope to break down the barriers for people of color and women entering the industry,” she adds. “It’s so important to pave the way for inclusivity, it is all about us unifying to create a change.”
EUNICE CHIWESHE GOLDSTEIN
Growing up, Eunice Chiweshe Goldstein spent much of her time with her grandfather, a homebrewer in Zimbabwe. In experiencing the magic of what could be created with homemade, farm-to-table processes, Chiweshe Goldstein says her passion and love for wine grew.
Now, she is challenging both the wine and filmmaking industry’s lack of diversity as a director, screenwriter and actor and, in 2018, she became Oregon’s first Black female winery owner and winemaker. Owner of Eunice Chiweshe Goldstein Winery and a UCLA film school alumna, Chiweshe Goldstein says her filmmaking and winemaking go hand in hand.
“Like my film projects, I use my wine to bring up important topics that need to be addressed in our society,” Goldstein says.
The winery, named for her grandmother, supports charities both monetarily and by raising awareness with the #purposewine project. Currently, the winery is supporting the Black Lives Matter movement with the release of the Black Lives Matter Pinot Noir, a dark vino bursting with ripe cherry and wild rose aromas that honors the ongoing fight against injustice.
Along with the ongoing support of organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, Chiweshe Goldstein is working on a documentary following this year’s turning point in the fight for racial equality, beginning with the death of George Floyd.
“This movement is such an eye-opening movement in our time,” she says. “I feel like it’s another aspect of history in the making, with my platform with my winery and my filmmaking, it’s my job to capture it.”