Whitney Gates and her husband Chaz had an idea. They wanted to get into the winery space but knew the odds were against them to make it a successful business.
Less than 1% of the wine and spirits industry ownership is represented by Black people. The Gates couple is part of that 1%, and now serving up their "WONDRY Cocktail Wines" in area Targets as well as select Total Wine stores.
While the concept wasn’t totally foreign to Whitney, she knew it would be a challenge.
“We want to reimagine the wine experience,” Whitney said. “But it was something that was a bit intimidating when my husband and I decided that we wanted to get into the business because there isn’t a lot of representation. We don't know what barriers you might run up against. But, it has been really rewarding to come in and shake things up and show them, within the African-American community, there are a lot of talented people with thought leadership who can also contribute.”
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For Whitney, it’s also about carrying on a family legacy.
“I had watched my late uncle, around the age of 10, make wine out of his garage,” Whitney said. “He was paralyzed, but that didn’t keep him from being a maker of many things. He would go around making wine out of different fruits, even vegetables, things like corn on the cob. He got so inspired to see the reaction that family and friends had when they tried his wine.”
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Whitney took her dreams from there.
She describes her product WONDRY Cocktail Wines as a fruit-infused sangria collection with heightened alcohol content. Aged in small batches, tastefully crafted for any occasion. Their fruit-leading, semi-sweet wines contain organic berries and exotic fruit extract for a succulent, smooth, and juicy finish.
The WONDRY brand was made a reality in August 2021. Whitney knew she and her husband were taking a chance launching the brand during the pandemic, but she said she believed in their product.
Whitney said it’s not just about their brand though. They are hoping to help other entrepreneurs just like them.
“We donate a portion of our proceeds to other entrepreneurs who just need that jumpstart into a space they are passionate about,” Whitney said.