When there was a call for volunteers for the planning committee for AAAV’s 20th Anniversary Celebration I was happy to answer it. I had helped with the Association’s scholarship committee in the past and was looking for ways to be more involved. I will say today I am quite proud of the program we put on, and our successful fundraising event. We raised a lot of money that is earmarked to the AAAV’s Scholarship program.
Creating a healthy and diverse workforce in the wine industry will always be a cornerstone of WineTalent’s mission. Bringing new faces, experiences and talents to the industry will strengthen the quality of the wine industry and provide new opportunities both within the wine industry and for wine lovers. This industry has historically been insular, and often elitist. If the wine industry does not attract new people to work within it, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts will never be successful.
Educational opportunities consistently provide access to new professions. Creating scholarships for underrepresented people allows talented individuals to realize their career potential in new and exciting industries. For several years I have been involved in the Leadership Scholarship with the Cal Aggie Alumni Association. Screening applicants who are incoming freshman and transfer students really sheds light on the myriad of life experiences future Aggies have. It has been quite rewarding to select scholarship recipients and see how the money helps them focus on their academics. One of the proudest moments for me as the Committee Chair was when one of my former scholarship recipients was a scholarship reviewer on my committee. He brought enthusiasm, Aggie Pride and recent campus experience to the interview process. He was also very thankful for the scholarship and recognition for his leadership activities.
Helping AAAV raise funds for our scholarship program was one of the highlights of the evening on May 21, 2022 at DeLoach Vineyards. That evening our Content and Programming Committee introduced the scholarship program. My fellow committee member, Nicole Mallari of VintNoir, was a past scholarship recipient. She highlighted the opportunities and education she received with the help of the AAAV scholarship. Her personal journey in the wine industry, and assistance from the AAAV scholarship was poignant. We committee members then introduced our Master of Ceremonies for the fundraising, Jay Jackson. Knowing that this evening was going to be instrumental in raising funds for future scholarships, the evening’s attendees really stepped up to support future Black scholarship recipients.
The evening was magical. The grounds of DeLoach Vineyards were beautiful and we had a balmy summer evening to enjoy the festivities in. DeLoach Vineyards is one of the 28 wineries within The Boisset Collection. Boisset has a dynamic and engaging wine ambassador program featuring wines from California, France and Canada. Boisset Collection has also been a big supporter of AAAV, dedicating proceeds from the sale of their Unity wine to AAAV. (To learn more about Boisset’s Wine Unites Us program, visit https://my.boissetcollection.com/wine-unites-us). With Boisset’s support and venue, we had a wonderful stage for our members to enjoy the evening, and open their wallets for a great cause.
Jay Jackson, an award winning journalist, actor and now YouTuber of Wine News Weekly, was a masterful fundraiser, and brought a fun and lively voice to the evening. People were happy to donate to AAAV on this evening. With this successful fundraising, AAAV will be able to fund several scholarships in the future. Want to support future African American vintners and wine professionals? You too can donate towards the scholarship program. Visit https://www.aaavintners.org/support-us.html to donate today.
Remember, your donations help bring new voices and faces to the wine industry. Help out whenever you can!
To watch the Symposium and the Fundraising and Awards Evening, please visit Wine Enthusiast for recordings of the events.