Tonii Turner, of Atlanta by way of California, is the owner of Vino’s Chick and Sip Make Take. Turner describes herself as “a cross between Martha Stewart and Robert Mondavi except very chocolately.”
She is a self-taught winemaker and DIY queen that has been making wine since 2010. She now hosts parties and events that teach other women how to make wines and other creative things with recycled items found right in their homes. We had the chance to speak with her more about her business and the importance of other women learning the skill as well.
Travel Noire: What got you into the wine industry and DIY repurposing?
Tonii: I have always been creative. I started with creative writing when I was younger. I’ve just always loved how to understand how things work and how they are made. When I was around 25, I fell in love with wine and the culture. One day, I just wanted to know how is this made? I finally researched it and started looking for classes around Georgia, but there were none at the time. After researching more, I made my first batch of Riesling in 2010. After that, I started having wine parties with my friends so they could taste the stuff that I made. They loved it!
TN: As a black woman, how important is it to you to make your mark in this predominately non-black industry?
Tonii: When I first started out making wine, my priority was to be distributed in stores. Now, I’m having more fun doing wine making parties and teaching other Black women how to make wines. We love any reason to have a party, to get together and have fun. They learn everything from scratch: they chop up the fruits, they learn the whole fermentation process, bottling, labeling, and corking. It’s important for me to teach them so they can have their own jugs at home. They learn how to make the wines from fruits we get out of the farmer’s market or grocery store. The most popular wine that we make is a strawberry wine. If you can make wine from strawberries, you can make anything. I think it’s awesome that we will soon have a bunch of black female winemakers.
TN: As a Black woman in this industry, what challenges have you faced?
Tonii: Well, I haven’t faced any direct challenges yet, but this industry is very regulated. You have to jump through many hoops and I haven’t finished jumping through all of them yet. Some of it’s wide open, so I’m going around it and teaching other people how to make wine. I don’t know of any other Black women that are hosting in-home winemaking parties. It’s fun. We drink wine, make wine, and have fun. So for me it’s not really even work, I look forward to it all the time.
TN: Where can our audience find you on social media?
Tonii: You can find me at @vinoschick.