She hopes to create pipelines for other Black brewers!
Hannah Ferguson is the owner of D.O.P.E. Cider House and Winery, the first Black woman owned cidery in Ohio, Black Enterprise reports. She got her start as an assistant brewer at Modern Methods in Ohio before pivoting to launch her own wine-making business, making it her full time job. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, the Youngstown native says the motivation for her launching her entrepreneurial endeavors was creating generational wealth.
“I’m not a multiple-generation winemaker. I am a first-generation winemaker, and I want to be able to pass that on,” said Ferguson.
For five years, she worked on creating a cider brand that made sense, centering the community in her brand and fighting through the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep her business afloat. Ferguson dealt with supply chain issues and capital challenges but through word of mouth, she was able to keep bringing in revenue. Today, D.O.P.E. boasts a variety of traditional, flavored, and non-alcoholic ciders that patrons love. She originally started by placing kegs at other local restaurants and bars but now she has a coffee shop style space of her own that offers customers a comfortable place to chat and enjoy her beverages.
“I’m just proud and glad that people are liking what I’m producing,” explained Ferguson.
She now joins the less than 1% of wineries in the U.S. that are Black-owned or have Black winemakers. Ferguson hopes to boost those numbers, recently launching the Youngstown, Ohio chapter of Black and Brew, a nonprofit dedicated to diversifying the craft beverage industry. Ferguson hopes that by not only staking her claim as an owner in the industry, but also creating this educational pipeline for other Blacks interested in becoming brewers, she can really make a change.
“One of my goals that I’m passionate about is pushing us past the 1% when it comes to breweries. When it comes to cideries - even the spirit and wine industry. We have less than 1% ownership…It’s about growing our numbers. I just want to be able to set up to provide a scholarship for someone to do something or an apprenticeship,” she said.
Now Ferguson is encouraging others looking to follow in her footsteps and take the leap, encouraging them to do their research and not allow themselves to be deterred by some of the technical sides of the business. Ferguson says there are people that will help, and in Youngstown, Ohio, she’s one of those people.
“If you just look at your resources in your city, there’s somebody that’s going to have certain programs. They’re doing it for free, and they’re helping you, and they’re guiding you along the way. That’s how you get to meet people, and there are a lot of people that are definitely willing to help on that journey because they were where you are, they’re willing to give the time,” said Ferguson.
To learn more about her work, follow D.O.P.E. Cider House and Winery on social media.
Cover photo: Ohio brewer is the proud owner of the first Black woman-owned cidery in the state/Photo Courtesy of Hannah Ferguson/Black Enterprise