Meet Vinequity. Not yet heard of this organization? After following their work since their inception, we were virtually introduce to members of Vinequity during the Ontario Craft Wineries conference in April of this year.
Today we look forward to welcoming members of Vinequity to our region to meet members of community. All are ready to listen and learn as we mark the start of Global Diversity Awareness Month in October.
We are also honoured to hand over this week’s blog to Vinequity Founding Team Member, Beverly Crandon.
What is Vinequity?
In June 2020, seven BIPOC wine professionals came together to form Vinequity, Canada’s first and only online directory of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) people. Our goal was to identify, acknowledge and elevate the presence and importance of diversity in our country’s wine industry. We have not looked back since.
Whether loudly spoken or even acknowledged, the wine industry in Canada has taken a communication strategy that alienates. This alienating concept can be found in advertisements, hiring within the wine industry, and vocabulary often used to describe wine. These have all been curated to speak to non BIPOC denizens. A direct contrast to Canada’s stance on equality and diversity, which is supported by a mantra of “An Equal Canada for Everyone,”* it was clear that change in the wine industry had to be championed for it to happen.
At Vinequity we felt that the tumult many Canadians acknowledged at the death of George Floyd was the time to raise our hands and put things in motion to level the playing field for BIPOC wine professionals, in the promotion of the same egalitarianism the country promotes. By adopting and applying three clear mandates: Mentorship, Scholarship, and Community Outreach through the Vinequity Directory, we have been able to make strides and start the budding of what we can see as change.
Vinequity Mentorship Program
This program is designed to help wine professionals, at every stage of their careers, by matching them with a well-established wine pundit in a discipline of interest to the Mentee. This is a unique one-on-one relationship between Mentor and Mentee for six months. To date, nearly 20 BIPOC wine professionals have travelled through the Vinequity Mentorship Program!
Vinequity Scholarship Program
Developed to support wine students interested in introductory and level one courses, through to Diploma levels or higher. Understanding how expensive wine education can be (the courses themselves and the purchase of study wines), it was important to us at Vinequity to provide BIPOC access to funding, supporting individuals in the community to realize their passions and excel in the industry. To date, Vinequity has awarded over $20,000 in scholarship funding.
A large part of Vinequity’s aim has always been to give the BIPOC wine community an easy way to connect and network with each other; share job opportunities and or insights to help one and other propel to the next level. The Vinequity Directory is the toolset that the BIPOC community is encouraged to participate in and utilize for like-minded connections.
What’s Next for Vinequity?
Vinequity is working tirelessly to iterate on the Mentorship Program to further ease the access to Mentors and widen the number of people supported. The team is forever hitting the pavement to find donors, both monetary and in-kind, to ensure that more BIPOC wine professionals can benefit from access to education. Vinequity is also working on an outreach program to grow the directory nationwide.
In the end, we think the promotion of diversity in every industry is critical for long-term viability and sustainability. The wine industry has a lot of work to do to change its perception in the minds of consumers and aspiring wine professionals. What’s encouraging, though, is that the tides of shift are surfacing. More and more, employers, marketers of wine, and some wine industry pundits are seeing why diversity in wine is essential. As well as what their part in making diversity a reality in the industry is. We at Vinequity realize real change cannot be something we do alone. It will take our wine community as a whole, wine enthusiasts, allies, and luminaries, to really make the mantra “An Equal Canada for Everyone” also ring true in wine.
Thank you Beverly and Vinequity Members for sharing your mission and vision with us. If you would like to join us in raising funds for the Vinequity Scholarship Program, here’s how! You can do so by clicking on the $5 donation button during your check out. Additionally, the proceeds from Wine Tastings at our Kingsville Winery Boutique’s Wine Patio will be directed to Vinequity’s Scholarship Program during the month of October.
*Gender and Diversity Impact Summary: An Equal Canada, For Everyone https://liberal.ca/our-platform/gender-and-diversity-impact-summary-an-equal-canada-for-everyone/