Exclusive BlackList

Wine Entrepreneur Hosts Weekend of Events to Celebrate African and African American Winemakers and Small Business Owners

Wine Entrepreneur Hosts Weekend of Events to Celebrate African and African American Winemakers and Small Business Owners

Benita Johnson toasts international wines as well as cottage food industry professionals

RICHMOND (December 1, 2016) -- This February, Richmond, Virginia sommelier and wine entrepreneur, Benita Johnson will host the third annual Exclusive BlackList, the country’s leading wine event celebrating the wines of African and African-American winemakers. The weekend-long event will feature a wine-tasting and competition beginning on Friday, February 10 followed by a wine-paired brunch at Richmond’s Spoonbread Bistro on Saturday morning, and a mini-conference for cottage food industry professionals, food and spirits makers, and other hospitality professionals at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

On February 10, The Exclusive BlackList will take place at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia at 7 p.m. Featured wines and winemakers include Shoe Crazy, Mouton Noir Wines, Flo Brands, Heritage Links Brands, Serendipity Wines, and Brown Estates. Attendees will be treated to tapas, small bites, and hors d'oeuvres prepared by local caterers, and live jazz.

Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m. with a wine-paired brunch at chef Michael Hall’s Spoonbread Bistro. Hall’s menu will be customized to be served with selected wines.

Later Saturday afternoon, Johnson’s The Vine Wine Club in conjunction with national partner, Cuisine Noir magazine will present a mini-conference for small business owners within the food, wine/beer/spirits, restaurant/food trucks and specialty gourmet food and beverage industries at the Behind the Business East Conference. For five hours, entrepreneurs will be able to network and exchange information and resources with one another and visiting professionals who will lead short seminars as well as avail themselves to questions. This year’s inaugural panel will be led by scholar and award-winning author Psyche Williams-Forson (Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power), and will focus on cottage food businesses. The conference ends with a vendor showcase.

Finally, the weekend concludes with “An Evening with James ‘Saxsmo’ Gates” at The Gottwald Playhouse at CenterStage. Saxsmo debuts his new single “Together We Can Make It.”

Registration for the weekend is $175 per person, and tickets can be purchased for individual events. For more information, to register and purchase as well as read the latest stories, visit