Less than one percent of wine owners in the United States of America are Blacks, according to a 2020 Bloomberg report. Four Black winemakers are on a mission to disrupt the status quo with their wine brand that is attracting attention.
Aaron Michael Coad and Terrence Lavelle Low along with their partners Brandon Crump and Devin Kennedy founded the newest Black-owned wine brand called Michael Lavelle. The launch of the brand makes them the youngest African Americans to own such a company, according to Black Business.
Lavelle Low serves as the CEO of the company, Coad serves as Head of Creative, Kennedy is Head Sommelier and Crump, Head of Operations. Lavelle Low, Coad, and Crump attended the prestigious HBCU Howard University. They met Kennedy while schooling.
Like many entrepreneurs, the four co-founders did not have a background in winemaking. Their background ranges from fashion to advertising and technology. Nonetheless, they had an appreciation for entrepreneurship and an interest in wine.
It was their mutual interest in wine that got them interested in launching their own wine brand. Besides their interest in wine, the four men also realized that the industry was dominated by white men. They also saw a void for culturally crafted wine targeting millennials and minority consumers.
They started educating themselves about winemaking and developing networks in the wine industry. They then took creative license to develop a disruptive brand fused with art, education, and most importantly, unmatched wine experiences.
Michael Lavelle patterned with a small-batch Napa Valley winery to make its wines.
“Created from a blend of Cabernet and Pinot Grigio grapes, Iris is crisp, smooth, and exactly what to drink with friends. That’s what inspired the founders to produce wine in the first place — Low says they’d often relax over bottles of their favourite vino and saw it as a chance to make their own blends and share them with family and friends,” according to Chicagomag.
On June 19, 2020, Michael Lavelle released its first varietal, Iris Rosé, which features a blend of Cabernet and Pinot Grigio grapes. The launch was done to coincide with the celebration of Black liberation.
“[Michael Lavelle] disrupts a sometimes antiquated and predominantly white business like the wine industry through innovation and unique wine experiences,” said Chicago native Lavelle Low, who founded the company and brought the other partners on board.
According to Black Business, the brand recently had its latest expansion called Gallery Lavelle which highlights the works of contemporary artists related to African and Black American identity.