How the Founders of Michael Lavelle Wines Are Disrupting the Predominantly White Industry

(L-R) Devin Kennedy, Terrence Lavelle Low, Brandon Crump, and Aaron Michael Coad, the owners of Michael Lavelle Wines (Malik Jackson Photography)

What started out as a genuine passion and curiosity about wine and its rich history has turned into a new wine label curated to enhance and educate the Black community.

Howard University alum Aaron “Michael” Coad and Terrence “Lavelle” Low founded Michael Lavelle Wines, a luxury private wine label, on Juneteenth of 2020 after recognizing a void in culturally relevant wine craftsmanship offered to millennials and minority audiences. Aiming to change the way people of color experience wine, the founders partnered with Sommelier Devin Kennedy and Brandon Crump, a client service and operations specialist. Now, the four friends are working to disrupt the predominantly white-owned industry that, according to Bloomberg, had less than 1 percent of Black ownership (out of 8,000 winemakers, negociants, and brand owners) in the U.S. in 2020.

“Out of passionate curiosity, we started to dive into wine and its rich history and noticed that our peer group’s appreciation for wine was growing, but there was also a lack of education around its offerings,” says Low, who serves as Head of House at Michael Lavelle Wines. In comparison to other spirits like tequila or vodka, “there wasn’t a real understanding of what premium wine actually is,” he told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

(Unique James, Composition)

In turn, the Chicago native and his three business partners developed a spirits brand fused with art and culture designed to give Black millennials an unmatched wine experience.

“The Black community has always been pushed a very specific type of wine, and we realize we need to change that,” says Crump, Head of Operations at Michael Lavelle Wines. “We’ve always been marketed a sweet wine,” he added, emphasizing their mission to expose the Black community to a variety of quality wines.

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SOURCE: Black Enterprise, Selena Hill