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Black wine owner is first from Midwest to go national with brand

Posted at 4:39 PM, Mar 02, 2022

CHICAGO, Ill. — From 6 a.m. until midnight, Chrishon Lampley is constantly working.

She is the owner of Love Cork Screw and the first from the midwest to go national.

In the industry, she is called a wine négociant which means she buys grapes from around the world and controls how her wine is made.

This time of year, she spends most of her days at her home office. She started her business a decade ago.

“I said to myself, 'I'm going to do something that everyone tells me I can't do,'" Lampley said. "And that's how I own my own wine.”

Now, her wine is all over the country.

“I'm in Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Total Wines, and more, just to name a few. To be such a small company and be next to these large companies on the shelf, it's just an amazing feeling.”

As a Black woman herself, she says she didn't see other women who looked like her in the wine industry as she was breaking into it.

"Out of all négociants, winery owners, and vineyard owners that are African American women, there's only 60 of us in the world," Lampley said. "We're less than one percent of the entire world that do this.”

Associate professor of marketing Monique Bellhas been researching the contributions of Black wine entrepreneurs. She teaches at Fresno State in California.

“Definitely hats off to Black women who are persisting with their businesses and particularly within the wine industry, because there are so many barriers to their success,” Bell said.

In 2020, Bell conducted a survey and found that most Black wine entrepreneurs felt that racism is worse in the wine industry than in other sectors.

“I thought that was pretty startling, that there is this notion of exclusivity and racism and elitism in the wine industry that these entrepreneurs face,” Bell said.

“It's a feeling of not being taken seriously as an owner," Lampley said. "A lot of people think I'm the ambassador. I'm the one in front when really there's other owners.”

However, Lampley says she’s resilient.

“I was definitely a pioneer in my area, and it's been hard, but I always say I'm here to break every glass ceiling till there's no more to be broken," Lampley said.

Now that several dozen other Black women have paved the way for women of color in the wine industry, Lampley says she’s noticing a shift.

“They have this notion that's really a part of Black culture, which is about giving back, helping the next generation, creating a legacy," Bell said. "So that was a really strong driving force for them to persist, even in the face of the challenges that come from racism that come from not having enough financial capital or funding.”

Lampley is doing that by paying homage to her family, lineage, and heritage.

“We all have a different way of saying how our legacy is going to be left," Lampley said. "And for me, it's being able to put my last name with so much strength in it to put that on a bottle.”