Friday, May 2, 2008

Wine, Spirits and Craft Beer Memo: Meet Mac McDonald; One of Only Twenty Estimated African American Vintners in America

Northern California's Mac McDonald, one of only 20 estimated African American vintners in the U.S., in his Sonoma County vineyard, where he spends most of his daylight hours. (Photo: Craig Lee. Curtesy: San Francisco Chronicle.)

California's wine industry is the most diverse in the world.

The state's winemakers and vintners range from multi-billion dollar mega-wineries like Gallo and The Wine Group, to medium-sized wine companies, boutique wineries and one-person operations run by doctors, lawyers and other part-timers.

In terms of winemakers and vintners, California's wine industry, like wine industries throughout the world, is pretty much a bastion of white males as well.

Over the last 20 years, numerous woman have moved into the ranks of winemaker and winery owners, but that hasn't been the case with ethnic minorities like African Americans, Asians or Hispanics.

Mac McDonald, owner, winemaker, marketer and even sometime deliveryman for his wines, is an exception to that rule.

McDonald, who happens to be African American, owns Vision Cellars winery (and wine brand) in Northern California's Sonoma wine country. There, near the town of Windsor, McDonald plants his own vines, nurtures his grapes, and produces his Vision Cellars brand wine.

By his own estimation, McDonald says he's one of only about 20 African American vintners in the United States.

He's also a spokesman and cheerleader to people of all ethnic backgrounds and ages about the joys of being in the wine business--whether its tending grapevines, making wine, writing about the industry or working in a store that sells wine, he says. It's all about passion.

We just finished reading a profile of Mac McDonald in the Friday Wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle. The profile is written by Amanda Gold, a staff writer for the newspaper.

The profile, and the subject, are both interesting. Since we enjoyed reading the piece, and feel its not only informative about Mac McDonald specifically, but also the wine industry in general, we wanted to pass the piece on to Natural~Specialty Foods' readers.

You can read the profile, "A Vintner's Vision," of California vintner Mac McDonald here.

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