From Walla Walla, Washington to the village of Harlem in New York City, these two enterprising sisters from another mother at Sapere Originis are leading the way in bringing gender equality and ethnic diversity to the world of organic, sustainable wines.
Their goal is to not only be a force among women led wine companies, but to bestow a new generation of ethnically diverse, multicultural wine consumers with great quality wines.
The founder of Sapere Originis wine company, Meredith Hyslop from Walla Walla and her Harlem-based sales executive, Suma Scroggins, have their work cut out for them.
The state of California produces ninety percent of wines made in the United States, yet only 14% of those wineries are led by women, according to Santa Clara University. Washington state is no where near that, at least not yet.
A study by Nielson Spectra in 2016 reported that U.S. wine drinkers are 70 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic (Latin X), 11 percent African-American (Black) and 5 percent Asian, with 43 percent male and 57 percent female. Enter Sapere Originis, a wine company in position to meet the growing demand for wines that appreciate America’s diversity.
So, what’s all the fuss about organic? Is organically grown that much better? Yes, and here’s why, according to UC Davis.
The Time is Ripe for More Diversity in the Wine World
Under Suma’s stewardship, the goal for Harlem (and uptowns everywhere) is to make Sapere Originis wines the most inclusive, socially aware, organic and sustainable wine company in the industry.
As a graduate of Columbia University, Suma spent her formative years in Harlem and returned ten years ago as a permanent resident. She is now putting Harlem at the forefront of a new sub-culture of wine, a movement that promotes organic and sustainable wine for betterment and enjoyment.
“Urban food deserts are real and so too are wine deserts. When the market is telling you they want better quality wines, –– ones that are organic and sustainable –– believe them. It’s not just about offering sweeter wines, either.” — Suma
Suma admits that it can be a challenge motivating retailers who don’t have the experience, are hesitant, or even nervous about investing more in the quality wine space. But Meredith and Suma are seeking to change the paradigm.
To be the bridge to a variety of wines from different regions, styles, and grape varietals, including their Top Choice wine expressions from Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley, highly rated by Wine Enthusiast.
"I love the Columbia Valley Expressions - and not just because it reminds me of my alma mater, Columbia University." Suma
If Saphere Origins is going to be the cultural bridge to great wines, it helps to be fluent in French…
Meredith moved to France in 2009 to complete a specialized Masters program in international wine & spirits. It was during this time that the wine industry in her hometown of Walla Walla began to emerge. The original winemakers in Walla Walla were Italian immigrants. Prohibition put an end to Walla Walla wineries many years ago –– but that was until the first official Walla Walla vineyard opened in 1977. Since then, the number of Walla Walla vineyards have grown exponentially to over 130 wineries across 2900 acres of planted wine grapes.
"The wine-making history has always been here, it never left, evident in wine grapes that still grow wild around Walla Walla."
The terroir of Walla Walla contains a highly suitable volcanic soil that is great for making wine, so it made sense for Meredith to return to the Pacific Northwest and stake her claim in Walla Walla, aided by a local Frenchman who serves as her mentor.
Sapere Originis believes in creating sustainable relationships to the benefit of growers. And, offers their customers a diverse and unique catalogue of wines, ––a catalogue that is almost as diverse as America itself.
Encouraging more African-Americans to join the clubby wine industry is a wise move when you consider the demographic has roughly $1.4 trillion in buying power. These two sisters from another mother have it right. A perfect reflection of the wine industry’s growing diversity.
The rest of the wine world needs to catch up.