Nicole Kearney Challenges Winemaking Norms


( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Nicole Kearney Defies Norms in the Winemaking World and Delivers Fresh and New Flavors to the Table

ENSPIRE Contributor: Natalie Dean

As one of 0.001% of Black female winemakers, Nicole Kearney has a commitment to producing excellent, handcrafted vegan wines. Kearney began her business after years of developing her taste for wine. What began as casual nights-in with friends and a bottle of wine has since turned into a licensed federal winery, selling and shipping wine all across the country.

Sip & Share has a wine for any occasion and all taste buds. Sip & Share, as the name implies, is dedicated to creating a strong sense of community among wine-lovers, especially those who have historically been underrepresented in such spaces. Since its first opening in 2016, Sip & Share has grown and expanded into a wine powerhouse. Throughout all the expansion and success, Kearney has remained dedicated to the quality of her craft and to cultivating community through wine.

Photo Credit: Nicole Kearney

ENSPIRE recently spoke with Kearney about her craft, successes, and goals:

As part of the 0.001% of Black women winemakers, what has your experience in the industry been like?

Within the Black wine world, I have had nothing but support, encouragement, and love. The wine industry ‌has only lent its support after the outcry of the death of Brother George Floyd. Black winemakers are still 1% of the wine industry and distribution hasn’t really opened up to help get wine placed in retail markets.

What are your biggest goals for Sip & Share Wines?

For Sip & Share Wines to be highly respected and well known by the community and culture. To build Sip & Share Wines into a legacy business that exists beyond my physical time on this planet.  

Sip & Share Wines produces handcrafted, vegan wines. What can you tell us about deciding which wines to produce, and what can you tell us about your decision to make your collection entirely vegan? 

7 Words Wines, our flagship collection, was curated by the community and culture. We spent about two years traveling the country getting feedback from Black and Brown wine lovers. Their choices were the 7 Words Wine Collection. Our additional wines are requests from our community as well. 

Our wines are vegan as most of my family and friends are plant-based and they were limited to what wines they could drink. We recognize this as a need to provide Black and Brown wine lovers with quality wine that is vegan and good for you, whether you’re plant-based or not.

What is the creative process like as you develop a new wine? 

We ask questions of our Sipporters to ensure we’re on the right track. Then time is spent thinking about the label, the font, and how the wine will be presented. As a writer, I usually come up with the names. Everything we do is intentional and we always have the community and culture in mind when developing a new wine. While this is going on, we’re actually fermenting then pumping over the wine from the fermentation tank into a barrel or stainless steel tank to clear and age. Then the wine is bottled, corked, capsuled, and labeled.

Lastly, what makes your wine unique? 

Sip & Share Wines is the only Black-owned vegan winery in the US. We travel around the country pouring our wine for the people at festivals and events to introduce our wine to new majority wine lovers. We host monthly virtual SipSperiences (Sip & Share Wine Experiences) with different themes that allows us to expand our reach. We also offer in-person SipSperiences for companies and individuals.

Photo Credit: Nicole Kearney

In the world of winemaking, Nicole Kearney has created a space for a community that is open and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Her commitment to inclusiveness and interpersonal relationships has made it so that those who are underrepresented have a place to feel valued and respected. Customers can feel confident that their support is appreciated and contributes to a greater good!

To learn more, visit the Sip & Share website!

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