Black winemaker pours round for social justice
It's a year that provides plenty of fodder for Thanksgiving table talk, at least for the people gathering for the holiday, and winemaker Eunice Chiweshe Goldstein said serious discussions should be taking place.
With her latest wine, Goldstein contributed to the topic list. Buy a bottle of her Black Lives Matter pinot noir, "I Can't Breathe," and enjoy it with friends and family while relaxing on turkey day.
"I Can't Breathe" comes after "Vote," "Pandemic Relief" and "No Kid Hungry" and others as part of her #PurposeWine line of wines. Not only is Goldstein regarded as Oregon's first licensed Black female winery owner and winemaker, receiving her licenses in August 2018, she is a social justice advocate through her winemaking.
Goldstein lives in the Los Angeles area and has dual citizenship with the United States and Zimbabwe. In Oregon, she has a winery and tasting room in Astoria and vineyard in Rockaway Beach. Some wine bars in Portland serve her wines, and they can be ordered through the website www.eunicechiweshegoldsteinwinery.com.
Meshing social justice and wine just feels right, said Goldstein, who's also a film director and actress.
"Conversations happen at the dinner table and wine is the best beverage and opens doors for conversation," she said. "People are supportive of the BLM movement. It's a powerful time, and I feel wine brings people to the table and helps conversations open up."
Goldstein said her winery sources grapes from the Willamette Valley, and she hopes the Rockaway Beach vineyard produces quality pinot noir grapes. She calls it "experimenting" with pinot noir, because it's unknown whether the weather will be conducive to producing the grapes.
Goldstein said winemaking, specifically #PurposeWine, has been done with her grandmother in mind. Her grandparents were farmers in Zimbabwe; the family still owns the land, and Goldstein hopes to grow grapes and make wines there.
"She always had it in her to make a difference," Goldstein said. "She inspired me to be the person I am today. My parents put a lot of love in me, but my grandmother had the biggest heart."
After the death of George Floyd during an altercation with Minneapolis police, during which Floyd exclaimed, "I can't breathe" as a police officer put his knee on Floyd's neck, social justice protests took place around the country, accentuating the Black Lives Matter movement. Goldstein said racial equality, and police abuse, need to stay in the forefront of discussions.
"We definitely need to keep spreading the message," she said. The "I Can't Breathe" bottle design incorporates a cross, a la Jesus Christ, "signifying that (Floyd) sacrificed his life in so many ways."
The "I Can't Breathe" wines have been selling well, she said. They are being sold at Portland Wine Bar & Tasting Room, Stem Wine Bar and Swank Restaurant in Portland.
The wine has been endorsed by the organization Black Lives Matter and BLM does receive some proceeds from sales, promoters say.
It follows "Vote," a pinot noir, which emphasized "voting never tasted so good," and "Pandemic Relief," a rosé that came out around Halloween that tried to "give people something to laugh about and smile about," Goldstein said.
With her #PurposeWine, she added, "hopefully through wine we can lighten things up and help people stand for something."
Goldenstein has appeared in some movies, but she directs more often these days.
She has a documentary on the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in postproduction and another movie on a social worker who bucks the system in preproduction. She'll also be making a film about the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm keeping myself busy and making a difference," she said, "through film and wine. Deep down, I am an activist."
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