Design Your Life
This New Society Brings Black Women Together Over Wine
By DeAnna Taylor
For many, getting together over a glass of wine is a popular pastime. It’s something about being able to unwind after a long day or week over your favorite red or white with a group of friends.
Richmond, Virginia native Shayla Vernado understood this very early. During her days in corporate America, she would often find herself gathering with co-workers after a long day, to enjoy wine.
At the time, she was typically the youngest in the group and didn’t understand much about the drink, but she knew she enjoyed the camaraderie.
“I learned to like it and the camaraderie around the experience,” Shayla told Travel Noire.
In 2016, a friend called her to ask if she would be interested in joining a business that would allow her to sell wine. While she did enjoy wine, she just wasn’t up for working for a company that would essentially only put money in someone else’s pockets.
But, this did spark her interest to research more into the wine industry and their marketing tactics.
“I found that these companies were not marketing to Black women. If they were marketing to us, it was typically only Moscato.”
This lack of presence inspired Shayla to create a space for Black audiences on her own. In October 2016, she officially launched Black Girls Wine.
“I wanted to create a space where Black women could just come and be Black women while enjoying and learning more about wine,” Shayla said.
Black Girls Wine is designed to be a sisterhood or a “wine sorority.” But, unlike traditional sororities, there isn’t any formal membership intake process or screening that you have to go through. Shayla wants it to be a welcoming and safe space, so all you have to do is sign up and join.
Since launching the national society in August 2019, Black Girls Wine has made its way into 23 cities across the country and more are joining each day.
Each week Shayla hosts an online show, Wine Down LIVE, where she engages with viewers and even selects a wine of the week. This weekly show is what has propelled the society into other cities. Many viewers expressed interest in sitting down and having a glass with Shayla, but as only one woman, she just couldn’t be in that many places at once.
The idea to expand into cities led her to select an ambassador in each location to take charge. As an ambassador, you are responsible for curating experiences in your area by partnering with wineries and wine bars for events.
Each year, there will be larger meetups for all of the members across the country to come together in one place. There is one scheduled to take place in Napa Valley next year, and will also include a private yacht party.
Next month Black Girls Wine will host a ‘Women, Wellness, and Wine’ weekend in Atlanta.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.