The second-annual Sips with Soul, a wine and food event celebrating African-American winemakers in conjunction with Black History Month, will be held Feb. 10 at San Francisco restaurant 1300 on Fillmore, in heart of the city’s jazz district.
Sips with Soul is the brainchild of Monetta White, the event producer and co-owner of 1300 on Fillmore, alongside her husband, executive chef David Lawrence. The event will feature 12 vintners, including Black Coyote, Brown Estate, Esterlina and Vision Cellars, pouring their latest vintages as well as complementary bites prepared by Lawrence.
Wine Enthusiast caught up with White to discuss sips, soul and the importance of shedding light on African-American vintners.
What motivated you to start Sips with Soul?
We have always done events for Black History Month since we opened 7½ years ago. Last year, we wanted to switch it up and do something different. I came up with this idea to honor African-American vintners, because so many people don’t know that they exist, or about their contributions to the wine industry. This event gives us a chance to highlight their wine and chef David’s food.
Tell us about your history with wine.
I’m a native San Franciscan and have been around good food and wine most of my life. I have a love and interest in wine. Since we opened our restaurant, I have had the opportunity to work with Emmanuel Kemiji, master sommelier and friend, who worked with us putting our wine list together, and who has taught me a lot about wines over the years. Now, I do all the wine-buying for our restaurant and feel more confident about my wine knowledge.
Do you see similarities between jazz and winemaking?
Great question! Well, yes! Jazz is about blending music, and wine is about blending grapes! Done well, you have great music and great wine!
Do you think about specific wines when you’re listening to specific music, and vice-versa?
No, not really, but the thought is nice… I know I’ve had some smooth Cabernet Sauvignons that are like the smooth sounds of Miles Davis.
What do you want people to know about the role of African-Americans in the California wine scene?
That they exist and have been here for years, and that they are very good!
Do you find the black wine consumer is underrepresented?
Is there a different way to reach different communities when it comes to wine?
I think people would support African-American wineries if they knew they were out there.
What’s the secret to holding a great wine tasting?
Have different winemakers present, different (wine varieties), good food, give the winemakers an opportunity to talk to the guests about their wines and don’t run out of wine!