Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Ron Lach.
National Wine Day: Wondry Cocktail Wines Delivers A Heightened Experience
As people around the world celebrate National Wine Day on May 25, winemakers Whitney and Chaz Gates are celebrating as their brand Wondry Cocktail Wines shines in major retailers throughout the Dallas area.
The couple launched the company in August 2021. Whitney grew up watching her disabled uncle create beautiful, fruit-based wines everyone in the neighborhood enjoyed each year. The wines not only touched their taste buds but generated conversation and community among all who indulged.
“I could tell as a small girl how his wine was a great catalyst for conversation, a catalyst for unifying the community and our family members and friends,” Whitney said. “And so when it got time for me to be of legal drinking age, I wanted to recreate those moments of community, of happiness and of escape his wines created back then when I was a little girl.”
After years of self-educating and studying enology at Grayson College, Whitney was inspired by her husband, Chaz, to create Wondry Cocktail Wines. The Black-owned wine company caters to a multicultural consumer base and offers an organic, fruit-infused wine experience with heightened alcohol content. Whereas most semi-sweet wines have around five to six percent alcohol, Wondry contains 13.9 percent.
“I was seven months pregnant when we launched this business and it was a lot of grit and hard work but we just felt like it was a great opportunity to represent the less than one percent of American winemakers who are Black and also create a wine that was organic, fruit-infused and that had heightened alcohol which was a really big void within the wine industry,” she said.
Since the launch, Wondry has received rave reviews from consumers looking for a greater buzz during their wine experience. The brand has won international awards for its uniquely crafted product and has also been embraced by multiple retailers. The company was offered distribution within the first five months of launch and can be found in Target and Total Wine locations in the Dallas, TX area.
“We get feedback not only from consumers but from retailers,” Chaz said. “The retailers are telling us we have far exceeded their expectations. And not only that, but we’re outpacing a lot of the big boys who have been in the business, the larger wine companies. So we’re small but we’re punching above our weight.”
Chaz says retail sales at Target have doubled since Wondry first hit the shelves and that consumers are coming back for more after their initial purchase. The couple believes one of the best things about Wondry is the product is 100 percent organic and fruit-infused, providing a healthier wine option for patrons avoiding artificial preservatives.
“We realize people are becoming more aware and scrutinizing what they put in their bodies and so we want to ensure everything we use is all-natural,” Whitney said. “So all the ingredients we use are 100 percent natural, and the fruits that we infuse are organic. You’d be shocked to see how many of your favorite brands, wine brands, and other alcohol brands include artificial ingredients, artificial color, and artificial flavor. We’re 100 percent natural.”
Wondry also produces its own wine in-house rather than outsourcing from other makers. Creating their own wine allows the Gates’ to calibrate the desires of the audience and give wine drinkers exactly what they want.
“It gives us a level of power and control over our business that a lot of other wine companies don’t have,” Chaz said.
As more food and beverage brands gravitate towards curating flavors that appeal to Black consumers, Chaz believes Wondry is another example of product evolution as the multicultural palette influences and changes traditional products like wine and food. Rather than following the status quo of traditional winemaking, Wondry is reimagining the wine creation process by developing new flavors that create moments and memories centered around a good glass of wine.
“Our wine not only caters to a multicultural audience but it satisfies the palet of that multicultural audience because we don’t want just bland wine,” Chaz said. “We want wine with a bit more jazz.”
Although the Gates have had many wins since their launch, the couple remains in the less than one percent of American winemakers who are Black. The lack of representation can be attributed to many factors including resource accessibility, financial barriers, and a lack of exposure to the Black community of the wine industry.
“There are some pretty significant barriers to entering the wine industry and resources is one of the primary barriers,” Whitney said. “It’s a very capital intensive industry so when we decided that we wanted to get into it, we had to invest a very significant amount of money in production equipment, in our ingredients, in our facility. So it’s incredibly cost prohibited for a vast majority of people.”
The Gates hope that more people of color will see Wondry and begin to become innovators, thought leaders, and creators in the wine industry. Believing multicultural faces belong in any space they desire to be in, the couple aims to lead the way in creating more diversity in a longstanding, conservative arena for winemakers and consumers.
“There’s a number of wine brands out there who have completely overlooked the Black community and overlooked what we desire in a brand, what we desire in a wine, and what we desire just overall in a company,” Whitney said. “So we’re trying to provide representation for our community that has been overlooked within a very traditional and conservative industry.”
By creating an organic, fully sensorial wine experience with elevated alcohol content, Wondry is solving a pain point wine drinkers have expressed for a long time. The wine is designed to tantalize every tastebud and sensation from the moment of purchase. A premier taste, Wondry Cocktail Wines is unlike any other wine on the market.
“You shouldn’t have to settle for wines that don’t represent who you are and don’t represent your unique tastes,” Whitney said. “So if you are someone who feels like you’ve been overlooked by the traditional wine industry, we encourage you to give Wondry Cocktail Wines a try.”