It’s an entire experience with a powerful mission!
The nation’s only Kenyan American winery has opened the first Black woman-owned winery tasting room in Alameda County, California, ABC 7 News reports.
Dr. Chris Wachira is the owner of Karibu Wine Lounge, a by-product of Wachira Wines, the country’s only Kenyan American winery. Wachira and her family immigrated from Kenya to Alameda in the late 1990s and are making a name for themselves in the wine business, effectively changing the face of the industry.
“Folks of color are hugely underrepresented. We are 0.1% of the wine industry in this country. So creating a space that allows us not only to showcase our talents but also to feel welcome and included is core to who I am,” Wachira said.
That sentiment was the inspiration behind Karibu Wine Lounge, a new wine safari concept showcasing the spirits.
“What we’re doing is a mini safari. It’s a wine safari. And it’s called a wine safari because each of the varietals have one of the big five of the Kenyan safari on the bottle,” Wachira explained.
She handcrafted the wines herself, pairing the perfect wines to go along with her mother’s favorite dishes. The Rhino is a cabernet made from Napa, Lodi, and Paso Robles grapes that goes perfectly with her mother’s lamb stew. In contrast, she considered the bubbles “the lion of the Wachira Safari,” which she says pairs exquisitely with her mother’s vanilla lemon cake.
“Karibu is a Swahili word that means welcome. So it’s a place where everybody should feel welcome,” she told reporters.
The lounge is not only a safe space for wine lovers but, more importantly, for women and people of color and those in the industry who craft and sell wine. Karibu carries their wines as well as brands from other makers of color. As a scientist working full-time at Stanford Healthcare, it was a small leap for her to get interested in the science of winemaking, even though getting her foot in the door proved much more difficult.
“We don’t have that exposed to us as a community as a culture because it’s an industry that’s been closed to us. It was the allies that supported me, that helped me learn how to craft the wines, that helped me learn the business of the wine,” Wachira said.
Now she’s looking to help others, launching a wine incubator program that will help offer mentorship to those looking to enter the industry.
“For me to be in this position today that allows another young lady or young man to see themselves reflected in me as a Black immigrant woman, it allows them to believe they can,” Wachira said.
To learn more, visit www.karibulounge.com. Congratulations, Dr. Wachira!
Photo Courtesy of Karibu Lounge