“I’m passionate about educational change and passionate about wine,” says Christina Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Wine Savoy. “My work is rooted in diversity and equity and in uplifting underrepresented people.”
Wine Savoy is a Northwest-based family company, started in 2019 by Taylor and husband Allen Taylor, who serves as chief technical officer. They focus on sharing and selling wines made by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and LGBTQ+ winemakers.
The Taylors came to the Seattle area when Allen Taylor took a position at Microsoft. Christina Taylor, in addition to her work at Wine Savoy, holds a full-time position as Director of Network for EdWork at Technology Access Foundation (TAF), an education nonprofit that focuses on improving learning opportunities and academic achievement for underrepresented students, and on empowering and connecting leaders of color within public education.
The idea for Wine Savoy began germinating in 2009, when Christina Taylor sampled a dessert wine made by Black South African women. This sweet taste turned out to be a life-changer, opening her up to the world of wine and also to the lack of representation for BIPOC professionals in the industry. She began learning about wine in earnest and dreaming about how to turn this personal interest into a business.
“The wine industry has been undergoing a reckoning, if you will. It has not been an inclusive industry – but wine drinking is. People all over the world and throughout history have been wine drinkers. The industry, however, has a history of being exclusionary,” says Christina Taylor.
She connected with Wine Unify, a foundation created by BIPOC wine professionals to promote a more ethnically and racially diverse industry through networking and professional development opportunities. From them, she received the education and support she was seeking.
“I met phenomenal winemakers that I didn’t have access to before,” she says. One of those winemakers was Cristina Gonzales, owner and winemaker at Gonzales Wine Company in the Willamette Valley, who became a great support and mentor. “Oregon has a great Latino/Latina wine community,” Christina Taylor notes.
Wine Savoy began building a list of unrepresented winemakers. “It took a lot of research on my end. I looked state by state,” says Christina Taylor. Her husband says they have built consistent partnerships and relationships, keeping a rotation of approximately a dozen wines available for customers.
Among their brands are Twisted Cedar, owned by Utah’s Cedar Band of Paiute Indians, Washington’s LaShelle Wines and Frichette Winery, and Oregon’s Maison Noir. “We’re very passionate about providing a platform for all the diverse winemakers out there,” says Christina.
Wine Savoy’s first event took place in February 2020 at The Station on Seattle’s Beacon Hill — we all know what happened in March 2020. Instead of the brick-and-mortar shop they had originally envisioned, the Taylors turned to online purchases and pop-ups around the greater Seattle area.
Currently, Wine Savoy is holding regular pop-ups at Black Coffee Northwest in Shoreline and Mixed Coffee in Mill Creek, as well as potentially at local festivals. For the future, Allen says they are leaning more into the online subscription model. They’ve had loyal customers and have been able to deliver wine locally, but want to consider what a national model could look like.