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Let's make five wines!

$995 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 16 people in 8 months
Plant a seed and reap fruit from the tree!

Can I get 1000 people to drop $20-25 to help me launch five wines?  They will get free samples and more!  And you also know how it is when you need some wine donations for a fundraiser -- and not that crappy wine either – who you gonna turn to?  Me, hopefully!

It’s my “Dune” moment, my “Xerox” moment, my “Hollywood Shuffle” moment, my “She’s Gotta Have It” moment, and I hope that you’ll help me do something with it (look at the bottom to see those moments explained).

So where I am at is a Black oenophile (wine lover), and federally licensed wine and spirits importer and distributor, wanting to take on the wine industry and spread the beauty of what it has to offer to a neglected demographic -- African Americans, Caribbean Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans --, as well as become an ambassador of wines from Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and maybe Croatia and Macedonia. I wish I had a rich uncle. I wish I was a little bit taller and I wish I was a baller, but I am not. It would be great if all my friends,were ballers, but alas they are not. I wish that I could easily access those people who are about that life and see what I am bringing to the table, but just like John 4:44, “a man cannot be a prophet in his own country.” Jidenna rapped this and Jay-Z followed through it with the title of his last album, and so here I stand. I have a good twelve years of learning wines, writing about wines (theblackwiner.com ) and presenting wines, and right now, what I want to do is share my love of the good stuff with other people; this in the form of my own wine label! You can find out more at ikavina.com

But I am at that weird position, which is that I need to have wine under my own label to raise more money, but can’t have wine under my own label until I have enough money [to pay for initial runs]. It’s like the conundrum of not being able to get the job until you have experience, but you can’t get the experience until you work in the job. Now, I believe that there are at least 1000 people out there who could, and maybe would, donate $20 [or more] to make this a reality. No man is an island and while it would be great to meet one or several monied investors, or even 1000 folks willing to drop $150-300, or 150-300 people willing to drop $1,000, time and experience has shown me that maybe I am in the wrong place [geographically] at the right time. Alcohol is basically a recession-proof industry; what is purchased and consumed is not only based on quality but whether people can afford it.

And this is the reason why I decided to try a GoFundMe. Hell, I have donated to a ton of GoFundMe campaigns myself.

You see, outside of the laws that we have to deal with in regards to alcohol [which are entirely different if I owned a winery, winery license, or brewery], I have not seen traditional crowd-funding sites being too successful for African Americans, but I have seen people raise money on GoFundMe, so I said why not do it this way. Leave no stone unturned if you really want to succeed, and like Phonte rapped, “Do you really want to win, or just look good losing?” For me, it doesn’t necessarily matter how you started the race as long as you finish it.

And I just refuse to give up!

You see to me, wine is love and life. It is the love of the earth, the grapes, the sun, the weather and the winemaker all put together. It can represent the combination of some of the greatest loves that there are, and it’s something that I love to enjoy with lovers, friends, associates and even strangers. The enjoyment of wine easily leads to making new friends – as does grappa – and it’s something that I have a divine passion for. And for me, wine is just the tip of the iceberg, but an important foundation to the pyramid I want to build.

Fact: As of February 2016, there are 8,702 wineries in the United States (Wine Business Monthly 2/16). There are less than twenty African American owned wineries and if you add in African American wine label owners, it brings the number closer to fifty. In over ten years of dealing in different areas of the wine industry, I have only met two African Americans who own their own labels. The main impediment in entering the business is always money, and while other businesses are typically started with seed capital from personal savings, family and friends, this is usually not the case for us African Americans, which keeps us out of the wine industry and many others.

Yet, we easily see scores of our people paying ridiculous prices for bottles at bars, clubs and restaurants, and even retail, for wines that are worth less than ten dollars a bottle and actually are inferior in quality. If I could get twenty dollars or fifty dollars from a tenth of those people, not only could I give them a few great samples, but I could also use that to procure my first round of wines.

So, after several years of putting together my plans and revising them, as well as meeting a ton of folks who can’t see the potential in backing a wine and spirits label [but would gladly invest in real estate thinking that they are going to be the next mogul], I made it my goal to finally have wine under my own label in 2018.

At present, I have a number of producers in Italy, Spain and Portugal [and know a few in France] who are interested in working with me and have made concessions to produce wine for me in smaller quantities than they normally accept for a private label. This means that if I take care of the label designs and printing, they will handle initial smaller runs for me. Between label design and printing, the wine itself, shipping and freight (sea transport and then truck transport from the port to the warehouse) and warehousing, just under 40K would pay for me to produce and have at least four wines under my label. This would allow for me to not only bequeath supporters with free samples – nope, they can’t be shipped to you – and have enough samples left for raising more funds for the business itself.

Why not American wines?

There are well over 10,000 formally established varietals of wine, but in America we probably gravitate to about the same ten, and that is highly boring, though there are some wonderful examples of each. It’s like continually eating the regular five flavor Starburst candy when you have tropical flavors, berry flavors, and the list goes on and on. Italy, has the best wines in the world – and yes, we can fight over this one – and the most dynamic range of styles and grape varieties. There are gems, from the inexpensive to the outrageous costly, which will seduce your taste buds and make you never look back! And those are some of types wines that I want to have under my label. Portugal and Spain also have some treasures. And you deserve some better wine!

Why start with four to five wines?

No winery produces only one wine and no label should exist with only one. Not only should you be able to offer a range of wines for different foods, but it also aids in getting your wine on the shelves.

What happens in the end?

I get wine, you get wine (free samples). Maybe you invite me over for dinner (I do cook and people have raved about my get togethers). I have enough wine to start selling in my initial market, negotiate with distributors to carry the product in several states (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and then turn around and raise about 150-300K from investors to purchase more wine, start a marketing campaign and cover other business costs. I might wind up throwing one or more thank you events modeled after some of the events that I have done in the past that people still talk about and want to throw (I could do those events because the wine was given to me by other label owners!)

Oh, we probably also remain friends for life and there might be some annual appreciation thang going on, because that's how I roll with my friends and folks who have been in my corner.


Those moments explained:

Dune – Frank Herbert spent ten years doing research to write the most phenomenal series in science fiction ever.  In fact, he got turned down by every publisher and took a Hail Mary and approached Chilton, a publisher that only did car manuals.  Well, they gave him a shot and it turned out to be their most profitable book ever!

Xerox – Chester Carlson, a law student who got sick of the old way of copying important materials – remember mimeographs and typist pools – researched and found a way of using an electrostatic charge and a glass plate to reproduce things by the invention of Hungarian physicist Pál Selényi.  He was turned down 59 times before someone listened to him.  Because of him, and that physicist, you have copy machines, fax machines and scanners!

Hollywood Shuffle – Robert Townsend decided to not give up, reached out to friends and professionals in the industry, and with their help and the use of his credit cards over several years, produced a seminal movie talking about the issues facing African Americans in Hollywood.  He really triumphed in his efforts.

She’s Gotta Have It – Spike Lee’s first movie; so much can be said but in the end, I am still madly in love with Camilla St Johns, the gorgeous actress who played Nola Darling.  I’ve actually met John Canada Terrell, who plays the original Greer; he and I talked about martial arts.
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Recovering from a nasty flu that I got on my last day at the national Portuguese wine trade show (SISAB) and also just happily attended VinExpo New York and a celebration of Italian wines the other day.

Portugal was great and not only did I find some great wines, but also made some tentative deals with a number of winemakers, some I already knew, and some I just met. And all of them are willing to deal with me on my terms!

And I also found an angel willing to help me out as well, but still looking at raising funds outside of that.

Let's make this happen!
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Just got some good news and an offer from one of my producers which will allow me to do four wines at a great price [I still have to pay for the labels]! We get to 8K and we'll have some great wines from Puglia (Italy)!
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Starting to work on some preliminary label designs and also thinking of some names for the first wines!
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We're at 1% funded! Start slow and finish fast!

Oh, since this will be for the samples, I can use names for the wines which might not be the final product names. I am interested in hearing any interesting names people might have for a wine.
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$995 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 16 people in 8 months
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