Abbey Creek, Black Coyote, McBride Sisters, Brown Estate—these are a few names bounced around when discussing Black wineries. Yes, there are many more but Brown Estate, the Napa Valley’s first Black-owned estate winery, made news in February because of a big partnership with Delta Air Lines.
Based in Napa Valley, California and sporting the familiar scarab beetle on most of its bottles, Brown Estates is known for Chaos Theory and a variety of Zinfandel wines. The Brown family’s vineyard started in 1980. By 1995, the Brown children began lying the groundwork for Brown Estates but it would be a year before they began working on their first wine.
Things came to fruition in 1996 and four years later, three vintages took the stage at San Francisco’s Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Grand Tasting. Since then, the winery has expanded as has the business. With this came more recognition in the wine world and more interest from potential partners.
Brown Estates Teams Up With Delta Air Lines
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carlyne Scott, a member of Delta’s Black community business resource group, came to the airline’s Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson with the idea to add Brown Estates’ vintages. The intent was to add the estate’s wines as a means of celebrating Black History Month but the vintages impressed so much that they were added to Delta’s list of wines. This partnership is also part of Delta’s larger initiative to promote supplier diversity.
The Two Vintages Selected
Robinson had a big task ahead of her already. When selecting what wines will make the cut seasonally, she has to go through several highly touted vintages. Her task involves tasting year-round and before the list is whittled down to some 1,500 vintages—which have to be tasted over a week.
Just imagine the wines that got the seal of approval elsewhere that Robinson tasted and said “This ain’t it.” That’s out of who knows how many bottles before it got down to 1,500! Brown Estates wasn’t one of those cut. The winery has several award-winning and highly touted vintages itself and two 2017 wines made the list for Delta’s 2019-2020 winter season.
The first was the 2017 Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc which, according to Brown Estates’ notes on Wine.com, “Palate delights with a cascade of vibrant pineapple and luxurious guava, finishing with delicate rosewater and effervescent bergamot.”
The other wine was the 2017 Chaos Theory which gives the taste of “blackberry jam and Chantilly cream lingers over toasted brioche, accompanied by hints of smoked bacon, flint, and pencil shavings followed by a subtle medley of dried kumquat, apple, and apricot,” notes Wine.com.
To commemorate the partnership, there was a surprise wine tasting on Flight 1473 San Francisco to JFK. No, the pilots didn’t get to partake—fortunately. If you fly Delta’s business class or get the opportunity to do so, have a glass…or two. Whatever gets you through those hours in the air.
If you prefer to remain grounded while sipping, the 2017 Chaos Theory isn’t available but you’re able to get the 2017 Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc through its store.