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Napa Valley Vintners Pledges $1 Million to Increase Diversity in the Wine Industry

by Cyril Penn
September 16, 2020


The Napa Valley Vintners announced it is investing more than $1 million in new scholarship and mentorship programs to increase diversity, inclusivity and opportunity in the wine industry - partnering with the United Negro College Fund.

NVV committed $200,000 to the fund each year for five years and will begin fundraising to build the fund beyond the initial investment. NVV additionally is investing more than $100,000 in two new mentorship programs created by industry organizations Wine Unify and Bâtonnage.

“We recognize our nation is at a critical moment to finally end centuries of racism and to dramatically increase diversity, inclusivity and opportunity, including in the wine industry. NVV president and CEO Linda Reiff said in making the announcement.

NVV organized a virtual town hall meeting back in June, soon after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, for members to learn from community leaders of color. More than 300 participated. Following that session, a task force formed to look at what the organization could do. The process was involved, with the group recommending actions including a focus on education and mentorship.

The initiative is a major effort for NVV, which was planning to make an announcement about it before the recent wildfires overshadowed it. While the fires and smoke and coronavirus, etc, are garnering a lot of attention right now, NVV still wants to make a difference on this issue and is looking to garner additional support.

“This is not over. We have a lot of work to do,” Reiff told Wine Business Monthly.

Behind the scenes, work continues on scholarship program details and requirements, including determining which colleges and universities are a fit with corresponding mentorship and scholarship programs. NVV has been working with UC Davis, Sonoma State, Napa College and others. Scholarships make a difference but mentorships and internships that provide hands-on learning opportunities and open up the prospect of jobs once degrees are earned are key.

NVV is working with UNCF on application details and final qualifications. There will be another announcement in a few months when the scholarship program is open for people to apply.

UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country.

“UNCF has great experience and has wonderful contacts, for example, at junior colleges, around the country that may be places that can provide students who haven’t necessarily considered the wine industry as an option but are excelling in program areas that directly relate to the wine industry, Reiff said.

With the program live and accepting donations, NVV is looking for help augmenting the scholarship fund to build it beyond $1 million.

The initiative builds on NVV’s longtime commitment to mentorship programs in Napa County with organizations such as Boys & Girls Club, Aim High and On the Move. This year alone, the organization provided nearly $2 million in funding to nine non-profits focused on helping at-risk youth succeed in life. These programs together reached 40,000 children in Napa County.

A consideration for grant giving going forward through Auction Napa Valley proceeds will be notable actions taken by organizations that work on enhancing diversity, inclusivity and opportunity for others.

“We also have things we’re doing with respect to our organization and how we manage ourselves,” Reiff added. “There are things externally and internally that were doing. This is just the beginning.”

The NVV is seeking donations from its members and others interested in supporting this work to build the scholarship program beyond the initial five years, and to match the support for Wine Unify and Bâtonnage.

Donations to the scholarship program can be made directly via UNCF:

To learn more about the industry mentorship programs, donate or sign up to be a mentor or mentee:

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