By BOTWC Staff
Meet Victoria Coleman, the first and only Black woman winemaker in Napa Valley, CBS SF BayArea reports.
Coleman got her start working in the vineyards of Atlas Peak as a viticulture student at the University of California, Davis. There she met veteran Mario Bazan, who would eventually become her mentor. Bazan was the one who took a chance on Coleman.
“This country is about opportunities and I kind of offered to her an opportunity and she took it!,” Bazan recalled.
Coleman soon made history as the first Black woman winemaker in Napa, releasing her first vintage wine in 2005 to rave reviews.
“After the fermentation, I remember tasting the wine out of tank and I thought, ‘oh my God, this is so good, I have to do it again.’ So that’s kind of where I switched over to the winemaking side of things,” she explained.
Now Coleman has built up quite a reputation for herself as an expert winemaker, now overseeing winemaking at the Caves at Soda Canyon, a joint production facility. Coleman is also the exclusive red winemaker for Lobo Wines, owner Randy Wulff saying he just had to hire her.
“I just thought she had the potential to be a star winemaker. And we wanted to make the very best wine on the planet if possible. She has one of the best palates I’ve ever encountered. And she is a complete perfectionist. She spends as much time in the vineyard as she does in the winery. She’s not a prima donna. There are a lot of diva winemakers in Napa. She is not one of them. She’s got it – she’s just got it,” said Wulff.
Unlike some who stumble on a history-making accomplishment, Coleman said she knew she would make history ever since she was the only Black person in her UC Davis winemaking class. With that in mind, she set out to do the impossible.
“That’s what I was going for. I knew it would happen. I knew it would be me. I knew I was the only one when I started…Yes, I thought about that at the beginning before I started the program, coming out on the other side, yeah. Feels fantastic!,” she said.
While winemaking is a one-man sport, and one where you have to constantly prove yourself with each new season and new vintage, Coleman is more than up for the task. She hopes that the work she’s doing will pave the way for other African American women to get into the winemaking industry. While she’s the first and only in Napa currently, she hopes that won’t be the case for much longer.
“I hope that I’m doing that. That’s what I hope, truly do.”