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Local winemaker featured at International Winemakers Summit 

Winemaker Raymond Smith Paso Robles

Winemaker Raymond Smith of Indigené Cellars.

The summit honors contributions of diverse winemakers around the world

–Winemaking is a centuries-old profession originating in Old World France and yet, in 2021 little is still known about the rapidly increasing growth of diversity in the industry. With an estimated 80,000 wineries worldwide, the US is 4th in the world in wine production. Often absent from the narrative are the independently run, Black-owned wineries with roots dating back as far as the early 1940’s with John June Lewis, Sr. of Virginia. Serving as a vehicle to further increase awareness of the diversity in the wine industry, Urban Connoisseurs is partnering with Uncorked & Cultured a lifestyle media platform, to host the inaugural 2021 International Winemakers Summit (IWS), a virtual 3-day event highlighting some of the world’s most esteemed winemakers of African descent.

Placing an emphasis on diversity, the 2021 International Winemakers Summit sessions will educate consumers on varietals available in a virtual marketplace, informative panels moderated by world-class sommeliers and will feature 12 Black award-winning winemakers from around the world. The Sommeliers will cover topics such as Wine Trends; Terroir and The Difference; The Diverse Aromas and Flavors in Wine; and more. The 3-day summit will educate people from the novice to the connoisseur and will take place Feb. 19-21, 2021.

Featured winemakers across the African diaspora, include:

  • Raymond Smith – Indigené Cellars (Paso Robles, CA)
  • Chris Christensen – Bodkin Wines (Sonoma, CA)
  • Phil Long – Longevity Wines (Livermore Valley, CA)
  • Theodora Lee – Theopolis Vineyards (Yorkville, CA)
  • Marie-Inès Romelle – Marie Césaire Champagne (Champagne, FR)
  • Cheramie Law – Cheramie Wines (TX)
  • James Moss – J Moss Wines (Napa Valley, CA)
  • Tinashe Nyamudoka – Kumusha Wines (Breedekloof Valley, SA)
  • Steve Byfield – Nyarai Cellars (Niagara, CN)
  • Nicole Kearney – Sip and Share Wines (IN)
  • Shae Frichette – Frichette Winery (Red Mountain, WA)
  • Dan Glover – L’Objet Wines (Healdsburg, CA)


“I am honored to take a place in such a prestigious class of winemakers, says local winemaker Raymond Smith of Indigené Cellars. ” I have met many of the honorees over the years and am proud of the high standard in which we all hold each other. The diverse background of each personality reflects not only a commitment to craft, but a degree of perseverance. Like myself, most of these labels are created conceptualized and financed by the winemaker themselves. Unlike traditional companies that have been handed down from generation to generation and are much easier to navigate what could sometimes be insurmountable challenges in our line of work.”

Smith explains the summit, saying, “There will be a 3-day virtual summit in which each of us will talk about our unique approach to wine styles, blending, fermentation, etc. I will be tasked to speak about my alternative blend styles, my approach to white wines, and how I accentuate their flavor profiles. How we build terroir-based flights to show expression of weather patterns and soil compositions.”

Indigené Cellars is located on Norma’s Way next to Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ, at 815 12th St, Paso Robles, CA, (805) 305-0397.

Marcia Jones, IWS and The Black Winemakers Scholarship Fund founder, says, “I’m so excited to celebrate 12 Black winemakers, to honor them for their contributions in the wine industry and being the face of possibilities for the next generation of Black winemakers. There are over 10,000 wineries in the US. Winemakers of African descent represent less than 1-percent of this industry. With the increase of wine sales last year, I feel it’s time to celebrate Black professionals across all industries, and my goal for Black History Month and beyond is to encourage consumers to support Black winemakers.”

In addition to supporting winemakers of color, the International Winemakers Summit will host a virtual brunch with three award-winning chefs, Chef Jerome Brown, author of Carolina Soul, and competitor on Extreme Chef and the Food Network; Chef Sabrina Tinsley, co-owner of Osteria La Spiga and Iron Chef contender against Bobby Flay; and Ricky Simpson, Jr., chef to the Atlanta Hawks and 8th Place winner of the World Food Competition.

Throughout Black History Month, Urban Connoisseurs in partnership with Uncorked & Cultured are embarking on a #BuyBlackWine campaign that involves the upcoming Urban Connoisseurs Wine Club offering members the opportunity to receive quarterly shipments of four varieties of wines from four different Black winemakers. In addition, Uncorked & Cultured will host weekly interview segments of wine industry professionals, distributors, wine shops, and wine reviews from winemakers of African descent. The multi-platform campaign will create experiences for consumers to understand the growing legacy of diverse winemakers, and a directory as a resource for wine enthusiasts to be intentional in supporting the advancement of equity in the wine industry.


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About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at