Black female wine brand CEO on sparkling, artificial intelligence and giving back to Oakland

Choosing a bottle of sparkling wine can be intimidating. It comes in all sorts of styles, and it gets bogged down in technical jargon – dose? Residual sugar? – It was wrongly considered special occasions only.

The Sip, a platform for sparkling wine and champagne discovery, is trying to make the process easier and more fun, especially for women of color. Oakland natives and best friends Erica Davis and Catherine Carter launched the wine brand in 2020 to help bridge racial disparities in an industry where less than 1 percent of wine brands are black-owned.

While men dominate the wine industry today, traditional champagne houses like Veuve Clicquot and Laurent-Perrier attribute their early success and innovation to women. In 1810, Madame Clicquot, known as the Dame de Champagne, created the first known aged champagne and in 1816 invented the puzzle table process for clarifying champagne.

Sip features these producers and more than 50 others, including smaller boutique brands such as Washiru Wines, a Kenyan-American-owned winery based in Alameda. The focus is on supporting wineries owned by women and women of color.

How it works: The Sip offers multiple entry points, from full-size, single-bottle, and bi-monthly subscriptions to one-time select boxes, starting at a reasonable $51. The boxes come with 187ml single-serve bottles, allowing budding bubbly lovers to sip without breaking the bank or wasting precious juices. The technology drives recommendations based on user reviews. The more users sip and comment, the better the AI ​​works.

“Our goal is to help people try new and different brands in an affordable way,” Davis said.

We recently caught up with Davis to find out more about the Oakland business, how The Sip works and how these bubbles are giving back to homeless women and children in East Oakland.

Q: How did you become interested in sparkling wine?

One. On my 23rd birthday, my mom took me to Domaine Chandon. They speak our language there. They didn’t try to talk too much about us about wine. Katherine, my best friend and co-founder, is with us. We decided to join the wine club together. We had our first job out of college and it was too expensive to do it ourselves, so we shared it.

Since then, our girls night has turned into sparkling wine. This is what brings us together. It has always been my love language to my mom and grandma.

Q: Why did you start The Sip?

One. We want to help people, especially women, figure out what they like without wasting money. Just because champagne is expensive doesn’t mean you should like it. It’s about dismantling decades of stereotypes and marketing to help people find their preferences. For example, as black women, we love the thought process of pink or mulled wine. Most champagne brands are run by white men but consumed by women. Completely upside down. We want women to take that power back.

ask How do you choose your recommended sparkling wine producer?

One. We have many different brands. We love working with producers who give back. We love showing black, brown and women-owned brands. Our goal is to achieve diversity in our catalog. This means not only big traditional brands like Veuve Clicquot and Laurent-Perrier, but also smaller grower champagne brands.

Q: What black and women-owned brands do you have?

One. We offer Wachira Wines, a Kenyan-American owned winery located in Alameda.Our first subscription box partner is B. Stuyvesant Champagne, the only black woman to have
American Champagne Company – Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. We also offer Gloria Ferrer and One Hope.

Q: What is your “take a sip, take a sip” plan?

One. It really is the foundation of our business. Sip provides clean drinking water to the East Oakland Community Project, a multi-service organization that provides emergency and transitional housing in Alameda County. For every box sold, we provide 16 ounces of water. To date, we have donated 5,500 gallons.

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