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Swirl Suite

Grateful to Witness Diversity in Wine: The Black Wine Experience

Do you remember writing, “What I did during my summer vacation” essay? This blog invokes middle school memories trying to convey an entire summer in 500 words or less. I promise to spare you every detail and only share the highlights of my amazing and transformative experience.   The Swirl Suite, a weekly podcast I co-host with three extraordinary women, broadcasted live in New Orleans over the July 4th weekend. We attended the Black Wine Experience. The Black Wine Experience was a weekend of celebrating African-Americans in the wine industry. Winemakers, importers, wine brokers, distributors, and of course, media influencers gathered to recognize diversity in wine. During this season of gratitude, I am grateful to have witness diversity in wine.  

Swirl Suite Hosts
Swirl Suite: Tanisha Townsend, Leslie Frelow, Sarita Cheaves, and Glynis Hill

Diversity is a hot topic. The craft beverage industry has not escaped this topic. The wine industry has been called out, chastised, placed on “front street” for its lack of diversity in ownership, vineyard managers, winemakers, distribution, virtually all segments. Women and black and brown people are STILL not represented in sizeable numbers. Blogs like Julia Coney, “Your wine glass ceiling is my glass box. An open letter to Karen Macneil and the wine industry” provoked an international discussion. Her blog sheds light on the plain sight disparities.

The Black Wine Experience was a platform to celebrate notable individuals. My Swirl Suite sisters and I had the honor to interview these celebrated individuals. Brenae Royal, the first and only African-American female vineyard manager, and Isiah Thomas, hall of fame basketball icon, entrepreneur, and now Champagne producer, are among individuals we interviewed.

The entire weekend was epic, and we have the audio to prove it! We talked to so many great blacks in wine. I am excited to share with you our interviews. The podcast is a two-part series.

Episode One

The first episode features Gallo Wines vineyard manager Brenae Royal; Gallo Wines diversity and marketing professional Derek Epps and winemaker Jennifer McDonald of Jenny Dawn Cellars. Jenny Dawn Cellars brought California winemaking to the mid-west. It is a new winery in Wichita, KS.

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode two is so large that we created two segments. The first segment features Chris Wachira, Ph.D., and Chadwick Spell of Wachira Wines. Wachira Wines is a woman-owned winery and a culmination of the extraordinary vision and effort of Dr. Chris Wachira, the first Kenyan-born, Californian winemaker, distributor, importer, and exporter. Winemaker Paula Harrell of Harrell Wines is a California native who was introduced to wine while studying abroad. Isiah Thomas of Cheurlin Champagne known for his business savvy and philanthropic endeavors as much as his storied athletic career. Isiah and his wife Lynn wanted healthier, great-tasting champagne without the added sugar. He is a hands-on owner of Cheurlin Champagne.

The second segment features a wine importer and distributor Larry Boone of Lawrence Boone Selections. Lawrence Boone Selections is dedicated to finding the best biodynamic and natural wines sourced from small family owned wineries. Mohamed Morretta founding partner of LaKool Champagne. Morretta and Robert “Kool” Bell, from legendary Kool and The Gang band, are the inspiration for LaKool Champagne.

Episode Two, part 1
Episode Two, part 2

Please take a listen to the Swirl Suite shows. I think we captured the excitement and positive energy flowing through the weekend. 

If you want to hear more Swirl Suite shows, you can click here.

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Swirl Suite talks Kosher Wines

Everything I Did Not Know About Kosher Wines

Growing up I remember a bottle of Manischewitz on the refrigerator door.  I was not quite sure what it was, but I knew I was not allowed to drink it.  Later I learned that it was kosher wine and that became my knowledge of kosher wine.  My understanding of kosher wine, unfortunately, had not evolved from childhood until now.   A Glass After Work, author Alleigh, joined the Swirl Suite to discuss kosher wines


It was one of the best shows Swirl Suite has had.  Filled with laughter and so much education about Kosher wines. At the time, we taped the show I was not able to sample any wine.  However, I loved the show so much I purchased a bottle of Tishbi wine after the show to try it for myself.   Tishbi is produced by Tishbi Estate Winery in Zichron Yaakov, Isreal.  The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon (75%) and Petit Syrah (30%) blend.  Pepper and black currant is on the nose.  It is not a lot of fruit flavors on the palate maybe hints of blackberries. I tasted more minerality, like granite. The body, finish and acidity was medium.  I am not sure what I was expecting. Honestly, I would have never known it was a kosher wine when I tasted it.  It is reasonably price at $15.99.   I purchased my wine at a local wine store; however, Alleigh had suggestions as to where to find kosher wines.



The Mevushal method was used to produce Tishbi Cabernet Syrah.  Mevushal is one of two methods used to designate a Kosher wine.  You can locate the kosher method on the wine label on the back of the bottle. Alleigh discussed both methods in the video blog.  Just to give you a preview Mevushal is when kosher wine is “cooked” or “boiled” during the winemaking process.  It may alter the flavor of the wine. Mevushal keeps the wine kosher. This allows non-Jews to handle the wine. You will find Mevushal wine in kosher restaurants and served by kosher caterers.


Get a bottle of kosher wine or grab your favorite wine and watch the Swirl Suite’s latest episode.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks again Alleigh for your time and insight.  Cheers!  View Video Blog   You can view more Swirl Suite episodes on YouTube.

Swirl Suite: Best Brunch Restaurants in DC

Best Brunch Restaurants in DC

The Swirl Suite women latest video blog  discusses their favorite brunch spots.  Some of the women may love wine, other love spirits, but we all love BRUNCH.  We shared our favorite best brunch restaurants.  Mrs. K’s,  Miss Shirley, and The Beacon Bar & Grill made the top of the list.

We also discuss the pros and cons of buffet versus ordering from the menu.  But most importantly, a Swirl Suite chat would not be complete if we did not discuss wine. I love to have bloody mary with my brunch, but the rest of the ladies prefer mimosas.  Sarita shares with us a new cranberry and sparkling treat.  Find out which restaurants have bottomless mimosas and bloody marys.  Learn what wines pair well with breakfast foods.

Swirl Suite hosts are Sarita Cheaves (@VineMeUp), Glynis Hill  (@Vino_ Noire),  Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass), Leslie Frelow (@vino301wine) and  Melisa Davis (@Liquor_ Lady).

Click below to view.

Wine Travel: Swirl Suite Takes on Wine Travel Adventures

Are you equally  passionate about wine and travel?  Why not enjoy both?  Tuanni of Zuri Wine Tours joins the Swirl Suite women to discuss Wine Travel.  The group discusses how you can enjoy travel on any budget and even travel for FREE.  Tuanni shares her experiences traveling to South Africa, Europe and even locally.  You will be surprised to learn their favorite designation places. They offer tips on traveling with large groups or by yourself.  Take an adventure with us, and click on the video below.



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