June 5, 2020 – The Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA) would like to make our position on racial equality absolutely clear to our customers, our community members, and the wider wine industry. After reflecting on the past week of protest and pain and the implications for wine industry professionals of color, we offer the following context and a promise.
Here’s the context: In 2019 the WVWA formed a Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Inclusion task force with the stated goal to advocate for diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity opportunities for our members and trade and consumer audiences of our programs. At our 2020 Annual Meeting in February, that task force set out a timeline for specific steps to identify and address the needs of our most vulnerable community members.
Now for the promise. This week, that same task force agreed on a more immediate goal: to develop a comprehensive Equity Toolkit for wineries and a pledge that includes actionable and accountable steps signatory wineries will agree to take toward inclusivity and equity in the workplace and beyond. We know we are still learning, and want to be held accountable to continue educating ourselves, so that we may be better equipped to nurture a sense of true belonging among underrepresented groups of wine tradespeople. Our ultimate goal is a wine industry that empowers each of its members and reflects all those who drink wine. We look forward to presenting this commitment plan in the coming weeks.
For now, we want to acknowledge that the wine industry has not served our Black professionals, aspiring professionals and customers well. We formally declare ourselves supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, knowing that is only a first step, and we are prepared to make the necessary changes to reflect that support.
January 21, 2021 update: Among other exciting initiatives in 2021, our Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Inclusion task force put together a toolkit for the wine businesses in our community filled with resources including articles, books, podcasts and suggested social media accounts. That toolkit can be viewed here—and we are always looking for new submissions!