When we think of wineries, we think of grape-based libations from far-away places like Italy, Spain, and Australia. If we live in California, we also sometimes think of the Napa Valley. But one Black woman is looking to change how we look at and think of wine.
Camillya Masunda created Ebony Wine & Spirits as a tribute to her Congolese roots. While her wines are bottled and vented in California, her company operates out of Charlotte, NC. Hers is the only Black-owned winery in North Carolina, and most amazingly, she kicked it all off during the pandemic.
“As crazy as some might have thought, to know that what we chose to do in this during a pandemic, I know it will be remembered, and the hope is to be inspirational to people that look like us. To be a part of an industry that lacks representation and take head-on and truly be fearless to change and shape the future of wine was my ultimate goal,” she told Black Enterprise Magazine.
Life, however, wasn't always easy for Masunda. As a single teen mom, she certainly had to struggle in her early days. The payoff, however, was well worth it. Masunda says her daughter, Lanayah, who is also her business partner in the Ebony Wine & Spirits brand, is "her biggest inspiration." Masunda also views her progression in the wine industry as setting the steps of generational wealth for her daughter.
Described as a "holistic serial entrepreneur," she owns several businesses, including Cultural Giving Tree, LLC, an educational center for Black children seven years old and under. The company offers a core Afrocentric-based curriculum while also incorporating a diverse early education program featuring yoga, foreign language, etiquette, agriculture and cultivation, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), phonics, and early reading.
But for Masunda, Ebony Wine & Spirits is not just an occupation; it's a legacy she wants to not only pass on to her daughter but to other Black women, as well. "We are the fresh and free new faces inside the wine industry," said Masunda to our sister publication, AfroTech.
"Representation is so important within the wine industry because seeing is believing. A vision or a dream is not established or realized if something doesn't trigger a memory or thought that may have been seen."
Ebony Wine & Spirits can currently be found online and in local stores, shops, and restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. It's available in four flavor profiles, including Riesling, Moscato, Red Fusion, and a Sparkling Brut Rosé with more on the way.