Nicole Kearney is among 1% of Black winemakers in the US and she's ready to scale her company
Nicole Kearney is a writer with an MFA in Dramatic Writing and vegan winemaker for Sip & Share Wines. Nicole has been in the wine industry for 10 years and is among the 2% of Black wineries and .001% Black women Vintners in the U.S.
Nicole is a wine enthusiast who one day asked, "Are there Black winemakers?" After a quick online search, she reached out to several Black wine professionals. They graciously shared their time and energy and opened the door for her to enter the industry. My love of wine transitioned in my career.
Tell us about Sip & Share Wines.
Sip & Share Wines is a boutique winery passionate about creating community with vegan wine for wine lovers overlooked and underrepresented by the wine industry.
Our diversity of handcrafted vegan wines are approachable to all palates, fun to sip and share and available via our wine club or by-the-bottle at sipandsharewines.com.
MFAs in playwriting are uncommon! What caused you to jump from writing and professoring to being a Vintner and wine seller?
I discovered Black winemakers and home wine tastings about the same time. After a few unpleasant experiences of Drinking While Black, I started asking others about their experiences. Many people had the same story of being treated poorly or totally ignored as a Black person in wine spaces and industry.
This lead to me starting Sip & Share Wines as a home wine tasting company exclusively pouring Black, Brown and small producer woman wines. Once we pivoted to a winery, started growing and traveling across the country to pour wine for the people, I made a leap of faith into a new adventure.
Some people might pause before buying a “vegan” wine. They shouldn’t, because it’s just a different way to filter wine. Clue us in about the vegan filtration process.
Often people don't know that most grapes encounter a lot of animal products in the wine making process. Vegan wines are filtered/cleared using Indigenous earth/clay instead of animal byproducts (fish bladder, egg whites, milk protein, pork gelatin). We purposefully made our wines accessible vegetarians and vegans. If you're a wine drinker, don't be scared of a vegan label on the bottle.
There are so many ways to describe wine...sweet, dry, earthy, fruity...how do you explain your wines?
Intention Riesling: off-dry/semi sweet white wine, crisp and clean, with aromas of lemon, flowers and honey.
Manifest Chardonnay: dry, lightly oaked, white wine, crisp with aromas of smokiness, honey with creamy mouthfeel.
Conjure Old Vine Zinfandel: dry, red wine, oaked, silky smooth, low tannins with aromas of vanilla, honey, oak, peppery spice. Aged in oak barrels.
Gratitude Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot): dry, red wine lightly oaked, fruit forward with aromas of blackberry and black cherries.
Awaken Sweet White: semi-sweet, white with aromas of stone fruits, peach, pear and apricots. Great Sangria base. 1 of the first wines we made.
Love White Zinfandel: semi-sweet Rose’ with aromas of red fruits, strawberries, raspberries, cherries and watermelon.
Abundance Sweet Red: semi-sweet, red with a finish of blood orange.
Which wine is your favorite?
Conjure Old Vine Zinfandel is my favorite, as I enjoy a full bodied red wine. The silky texture is sexy. We age this wine for 9 -12 months in oak barrels and the aromas and mouth feel are amazing. This wine can be drank without food. It’s an amazing compliment to grilled veggies, lamb, red based pastas and BBQ. It’s the wine to take to the cookout to sip and share with others.
A “SipSperience🍷” is just what a lady needs at the end of a long pandemic day. Walk us through the experience?
A SipSperience™️ is a guided, interactive virtual wine tasting of our 7 Words Wine Collection. You receive a Sampler Set delivered or shipped to your door. An email with login information, instructions and cheese pairing suggestion is sent. When you log on, it's a 90 minute party of sipping, getting wine education, meeting new people and being with friends.
We host a different themed SipSperience™️ monthly (i.e.,,Sip & Sounds, Sip & Pair). Businesses, organizations, families, friends, bridal and birthday parties host private ones for team building, happy hour or just because.
You often share that there are very few Black vintners? What are the obstacles and opportunities being a Black woman Vintner and business owner?
I’m among the 1% of Black winemakers and .01% of Black women winemakers. Overcoming people’s shock, disbelief and being unaware there are Black winemakers. However, once they taste the wine, they recognize that great wine can be made by anyone regardless of ethnicity and gender.
How have The Startup Ladies helped you grow?
The Startup Ladies has introduced me to an incredible group of amazing women and men entrepreneurs who are crushing it. They make this Entrepreneurship life less lonely. The first Study Hall I attended Kim Saxton led. She shared with my the difference between growth and scale. We entered The Startup Ladies with a growth business model. Now, we have a scaleable one.
What’s next for you?
Culture Can wines - bold flavors with bold names to match - The People’s Pinot Grigio, Royalty Rose’ and Solidarity Sweet Red Blend, a 3 can variety pack we’ll be releasing on Juneteenth. Pre-orders start in May and on April 10th, you can buy the Solidarity Sweet Red Blend ONLY at S.H.E. Event!!
To learn more about purchasing wine, hosting a SipSperience, or investing in Nicole and her company, please visit: https://sipandsharewines.com/