Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by BVN
Phyllis Kimber Wilcox |
Two sisters navigated the challenges of COVID-19 to open a successful and thriving business and are helping introduce wine lovers to the products of Black winemakers who are competing in an industry where few Blacks have claimed space.
Dj Lee places turntables, computer and speakers behind a lit-up sign that reads “Inglewine”. The sign is on a wall with a few bottles of wine showcased individually under vines and white flowers.
He starts out playing a mixture of new tunes and oldies. The music is loud, playing through speakers arranged around the space. Groups of people talk, hug one another and laugh. No one seems to mind the volume. They get closer and speak louder.
There’s a long black bar, with black chairs nestled up against white countertops behind where smiling servers in aprons prepare for the new arrivals.
An Intimate booth, well lit by a distinctive light fixture, reflects light off gold and silver metallic paper defining one end of the room. It is separated by a privacy wall created by a long comfortable beige bench extending the length of the south wall facing cushy curry colored chairs, fronted by white tables each with bouquets of dried flowers in vases.
Leslie Jones sits in a chair in front of the booth preparing for an on camera interview. Her face lights up when her sister Leann comes out of the kitchen and sits next to her as a reporter asks questions.
In front of the bar, a row of the same curry colored chairs and white tables runs its length. Beyond two screens show clips of the Jones sisters’ media forrays, clips from Ryan Seacrest, ABC, and Ellen play.
After her on camera interview, Leslie Jones floats through the venue in a spaghetti strapped cool summer maxi dress in shades of blue, white and coral, talking to the employees and greeting people, while sister Leann Jones, in a gray t-shirt and soft looking chinos rarely seen, returns to the kitchen to make sure all is good there.
This is a celebration. Against the odds, against the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jones sisters are seeing their shared vision of a Black owned wine bar in the city of Inglewood come true. 1010 North LaBrea is that vision.
1010 Wines and Events carries one of the largest selections of wine made by Black winemakers in California. It is open from Wednesdays through Sundays. Check out 1010 Wine and Events on social Instagram @1010wineandevents and Facebook for details.
The Black Voice News spoke with Leslie Jones about what it took to make the day happen.
“A lot of people have no idea there are Black winemakers. How did you and your sister find them?”
“We grew up with my parents encouraging us to support small businesses, Black-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and so when we got interested in wine the first thing we did was [to say] let’s see what Black people are doing in this space. That’s what we’ve always done in any other industry we were interested in.
When we got into it, we realized that Black wine companies were less than one percent of wine companies in the country. We developed relationships with the winemakers and we started to love their wines.
So, when we knew we were going to open up this space, we knew that we wanted to carry the wines, literally, that we were just drinking at home and we were enjoying and we were introducing to our friends.”
“Do you find that you’re educating your public, the people that come in as to what to drink, and those out there in terms of Black winemakers and what’s available for them?”
“Yes. Definitely. We have the largest selection of Black owned wines in the state of California and we really try to tell the stories behind the wines because they are really interesting. For example, the McBride Sisters– which is the largest Black owned wine company in the country – are sisters that met [as adults]. They lived on opposite sides of the world. They came together and started making wine . . . like, that [kind of] stuff is very cool to us and very interesting.
Another thing that we do is called the Meet the Winemakers series where we bring in wine companies to really introduce our clientele to those brands so people can taste their wines and can get to hear their stories so that they not only come back here and ask for their wines, but they go to other places around the city and ask for their wines so that, that wine company can grow.”
“So when do you have Meet the Winemakers events?”
“So we do that on Saturdays. It’s typically one or two Saturdays out of the month. “
“People can find that information on your social media page?”
“All of our events are always posted on our Instagram and Facebook pages. The Meet the Winemakers series is completely free. You can try the wines. Just make a reservation to come in because it’s become a little popular and it gets a little busy in here. People come in and enjoy the wines.”
“And you do brunch?”
“We do brunch on Sundays from eleven to four. We have bottomless mimosas. We have great food. We have a DJ. So, it’s just a really good time.”
“How did COVID-19 affect the development of your business?”
“We actually got this building in 2019. We started construction right away and with delays from the city we had to pause a little bit and then we were going to resume right at the beginning of 2020. Then, COVID happened. So we really had this space for almost a year before we were able to start working on it.
We started working on it at the end of 2020, the beginning of 2021. We were able to finish construction in July 2021 and opened in August of 2021. So we definitely had to navigate COVID and also other things, being a new business owner, working with the city, things we didn’t know because it’s not an industry we’ve been in before.”
Leslie also spoke about how customers were finding the business. After being featured on ABC, several media features followed and helped customers find them. Word of mouth has also been a big help.
Guests continued to arrive. The conversation and music were constant.
After the interview, brunch was served. The food was delicious and Mimosas were served throughout the meal.
Not only was the food delicious but the service was excellent. Despite setbacks and difficulties, the Jones sisters have created a space to drink good wine, eat good food and learn about a little known industry in a beautiful setting BVN congratulates them on making it happen.