How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have been in the business for 2.5 years now. I started making #TastingThursday videos on Instagram, where I could taste and learn along with viewers. Over the course of the pandemic, I started working with brands to integrate them into videos. I have also expanded my digital footprint to TikTok, where I reach more than 120,000 viewers and counting.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
A Somm, personally, reached out to me. She mentioned there is a need for more African-American voices within the wine industry. Per her recommendation, I took my first wine course and fell love with wine knowledge.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I love when I receive comments, DM‘s and emails from supporters who share their wine journey with me. Whether they’re discovering a new wine or taking their first wine certification program; it’s exciting to cultivate a community of wine lovers.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
I take social media breaks. Haha! As of late, my wellness balance is in need of some R&R. Any entrepreneur can speak on the moments within your business when you have to go into hyperdrive. That’s where I am right now, but I try to get out the house, watch my favorite television show, and work out… when I can.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
When I visit wine country, I want to see diversity. I know that we have been working on diversity and inclusion within our industry; however, it’s still very surface. When I visited wine country last summer, I was still the “token”. I don’t want to be that any more.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
That’s such an interesting question, so I’ll answer it the best way I know how. We talk about how we need more representation within this industry, and the problem is representation is there… We just don’t see them. Equality is not “making something new” or “ re-creating the wheel”. It’s about genuinely welcoming the people who already exist. By doing that, we open the door for the people behind them.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
I feel that I’m illuminating a true and organic way to drink wine… by enjoying it! I show my way of experiencing wine and I encourage others to discover their way. Sprinkle in some wine knowledge and there you have it… the next generation of wine lovers. I constantly think about how I’m speaking about wine. Is there anyone being left behind? How can I make this tasting more inclusive? Am I focusing on ONE palate preference? Am I being myself? My contribution is stepping out of myself and what the industry appears to be and BEING a sommelier of the people!
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Study, put in the work, and be yourself. That’s it.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
The people I have listed below have motivated me throughout my journey. Majority of my life as “The Millennial Somm” has been unpredictable. The knowledge, respect, support, and love I received from the people listed below (and a few that aren’t) have blessed me beyond words. Kevin T. // @thefullbellyblogger, Fat S. // @fahshinewine, Danielle // @therosebae, @thewinemistress, Bertus van Zyl // @bertusvz, Chasity Cooper // @chasityscooper, Julia Coney // @juliaconey, Barbara Order // @gorder