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Monday, May 27, 2024

Rare vino: Coming to Indy via Black wine group

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If you enjoy a nice glass of riesling, merlot, rose’ or another vino varietal, you’re not the only one. Consumer data shows that in 2016, wine sales increased in the United States for the 22nd consecutive year. 

Nicole Kearney was first introduced to the wine world while in graduate school. She and her classmates would share bottles with one another and compare notes on their favorite finds. Sometime later, she and a few friends joined a corporate wine club. The reception from organizers and other attendees was quite frigid and unwelcoming.

“Well, these groups, what they do is when you buy a case of wine, you get invited to corporate wine tastings that are in hotels … a lot of the times, my name wasn’t on the guest list,” she said. “They would seat us in the back of the room. So the assumption was, we really didn’t pay … but to get into the room you have to buy a case of wine. You’d have to spend at least a couple hundred dollars just to get into that room.”

Last August, Kearney decided to step into business for herself. Initially, she took her famous sangria to a local food festival and realized it was a hit. Soon thereafter, she founded Sip and Share Wine. 

“I was just doing wine tastings for my girlfriends,” she said. Kearney enlisted the help of those same girlfriends, one who works as an attorney and another who is an expert in alcohol licensing, to get the business up and running.

The group organizes small wine events and sends experts, also known as “Wine Guides,” to private parties to conduct tastings. Kearney said her focus is on small-batch wines, which are typically produced in quantities of no more than 500 bottles, and wines that come from Black-owned wineries. 

“We do community events, we do home wine tastings and we are moving into corporate. We’ve done our first corporate event, but we will be doing more corporate events. What we do is pour Black, women-owned and small-batch wines,” she said. 

Kearney said many of the wines they share are hard to come by and not available in stores around the country, and Sip and Share has become a de facto marketing arm for many of the winemakers. The group also works to educate people on wine etiquette. 

“We provide info about the wine we pour. We talk about the taste of the wine, food pairings, how to hold a wine glass and about buying wine by the bottle versus the glass,” Kearney said. 

In addition to the events, Kearney hosts a wine-centered podcast each Wine Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. Eastern time.

“We typically interview a Black wine maker or someone who is Black in wine (industry) and let them share their story. And then we do a wine of the week tasting, which could be that winemaker’s wine or could be something different … something that could be of use to people.” 

In the past, Kearney has showcased wine coasters, racks and other accessories on the show. “It’s really fun and open, people can come to the studio and drink wine with us. The only thing is if you’re coming to drink the wine you have to talk about it with us, as you will be recorded on audio and then there will be a Facebook live. If they didn’t like it, they can say that. If they did, they can say what they liked about it.” 


For more on Sip and Share Wine, visit sipnsharewine.net.

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