Photo Credit: Courtesy of Memosa Wine Brand
Meet The Woman Behind Florida's First Black Woman-Owned Wine Brand
Desiree Noisette is the founder of Florida’s first Black woman-owned wine brand.
Mermosa was created to celebrate everyone’s inner mermaid while honoring one woman in Noisette’s family who came seven generations before her. According to Noisette, her ancestors’ love story broke the chains of slavery.
Celestine Noisette came to the US from Haiti with her white French husband, Philippe, in the late 1700s. When they arrived, he was told that Mrs. Noisette and her children would have to be claimed as slaves by her husband to keep them from being sold to a slave owner in Antebellum, South Carolina.
Philippe was a gardener known to pioneer what we know today in South Carolina as the Noisette Rose, a flower bold and enduring like his beautiful Celestine Rose. Upon his death in 1835, Philippe ensured that all of his money went to Celestine and their children. He hoped that she would take the money and travel to the north for freedom. But Celestine took matters into her own hands and decided to negotiate her freedom.
“Her audacious spirit and their eternal love are infused in every sip of Mermosa,” said Noisette. “This story stokes the fire in my heart and my determination to honor this remarkable woman, who I’ve always believed was the original mermaid.”
When Noisette told people about her plans to create wine, everyone thought she was crazy.
“People asked me, ‘what are you doing?’ I convinced my husband to sell our house, and we moved to our small apartment with our kids, so we could kick everything off and finance the whole thing,” she said.
Noisette’s Journey To Becoming A Winemaker
Noisette is an attorney by trade, who like Mr. Noisette, loves to be in the garden. She’s a woman of many talents, including an artist, resort wear designer, and now wine business owner— all while being a wife and mother.
When Noisette started researching her new wine brand, she tapped into the energy of her inner mermaid. She said she had the audacity to call people in the industry to ask for help.
“I ended up getting an invitation from a gentleman out of Oregon who’s a winemaker,” she said. “He’s been in the industry for decades and invited me out to his home. He taught me and my husband how to set up a lab, how to create wine formulations, and I took it from there.”
It took Noisette nine months to research, learn, and officially launch her wine brand in 2017. She said Celestine’s indomitable spirit and fight for freedom is how she was able to transition from lawyer to retail business owner, then designer and wine business owner.
Representation In The Wine Industry
The wine industry is underrepresented for Black people. There are more than 8,000 wineries nationwide, but one-tenth or less than one percent are Black-owned, according to Phil Long, president of the Association of African-American Vintners.
But Noisette didn’t let that statistic deter here from knocking on the industry’s door.
“I truly believe representation matters,” said Noisette. “Seeing people that look like you in ways you don’t traditionally see really broadens your horizons in the world. I like to tell young people to expect success, no matter what field they’re in because when that opportunity comes, you will be prepared for it. I really feel like the wines are infused with Celestine’s audacity and I want everybody to get to that mermaid spirit. Once you embrace it, you’re unstoppable.”
Mermosa offers several ways to toast Celestine and everyone’s inner mermaid. You can choose the crisp Mersecco or the sultry Celestine Rosé.
Bottles retail for $14.99 and each 2-pack of cans sells for $9.99.
The brand has already been stocked in independent grocery stores throughout Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia. Noisette plans to expand to the rest of the country as well.
Find more information and store locations by visiting the company website.