Two years ago, Cheramie Wine began taking the Texas wine industry by storm.
By Elle Bent, Photos courtesy of Cheramie Law
Cheramie Law is not your typical vinter. Inspired by her passion for Texan wine, Law co-founded Salt and Pepper Wine with her husband to help spark a louder conversation surrounding wines from the state. Two years ago, Law released her first wine as part of her brand, Cheramie Wine, winning awards and helping bring more interest to the Texas wine industry. With a goal of putting Texas wine on the map, Cheramie Wine helps tell the story of the wines from the Lone Star State, thanks to Law’s passion and determination.
“Money is not my ultimate goal with Texas wine,” she says. “I want to be able to tell the story of Texas wine.”
What inspired you to make Cheramie Wine?
It all started off with a love for Texas wine. My husband and I saw nobody was talking about [it], really doing anything with it. So we started talking about it online, and that’s kind of how we built this following. Then from social media and talking about wine, meeting winemakers, growers and industry leaders from our travels, I realized no one was really selling Texas wine how I saw other wines being sold. So I said, “You know what? I’m gonna start selling wine.” You don’t just become a wine broker, but I did. I learned so much about the wine industry, and I told my husband, “I really feel like I can do this, start a wine brand. I know everybody in the industry, I know buyers, I know where we can get grapes. Can I take our savings and start a wine brand?”
So, that’s how we started, just because I wanted to share a different story of Texas wine. Everybody within this industry kind of looks the same and kind of is the same. It’s not a good representation of who I know in the Texas wine industry, and it’s not a good representation of what Texas is. Texas is more than just one type of person; Texas is a melting pot. We wanted to add to that story, and that’s why I started Cheramie Wine.
What are your thoughts on the Texas wine scene, its growth and development since 2014?
There’s so much more respect for the Texas wine industry. In Texas, outside of Texas and outside of the United States people are curious about what we are doing, wanting to learn more and coming into Texas for our wine. It’s really cool to see that. It’s a very exciting time to be in the industry.
What challenges have you faced in the wine industry, especially as a woman and as a woman of color?
One of the biggest struggles for a business owner is always going to be funding. For us, we’re out hitting the pavement, raising money for my wine brand, and people just want to assume that I don’t know how to run a business. That’s been one of the hard things, to get people to see me as a serious wine brand owner. Specifically as a woman, specifically as a Black woman. When you look to see who’s giving out money, the least amount of money is going to Black women, and I definitely feel that while I’m in fundraiser mode.
For me, I am going the route of grants, pitch competitions and those sorts of things. That takes a lot of networking, a lot of trying to get in the right circle in the right room. I don’t have those connections; I didn’t grow up knowing how to do this. There are so many companies that are giving grants to companies like myself; it’s just being able to find them and be able to tell them a compelling story; it’s looking to pitch my brand. Right now, everyone’s looking at tech. I’ve got wine. I want to pour you a beautiful glass with my wine and be able to tell you all the wonderful things about the growing season and how it’s supposed to pair with your food.
You’re coming up on the second anniversary of the release of your first wine. Can you talk about some of your accomplishments in the past two years and where you see your brand heading?
We released our riesling in 2020. That’s so crazy to think about; that was our very first wine. I call our brand “the little engine that could.” We were named as a hot brand of 2020 by Wine Business Monthly. We have been on Best List, Texas Monthly, Dallas Morning News. Our wine has won awards, even as far as the United Kingdom. Our riesling actually got a silver in the U.K. against rieslings around the world. That was really cool. All of our wines are award-winning wines. We have distributed into New York, California and can be shipped to 35 states. All that is without the funds we need to do it on a big scale. I think those are huge accomplishments.
We have a rosé that we’re looking to release during the holidays. When everyone thinks of rosé, they think of summer. But rosé is more than a summer wine. You can have it at Thanksgiving with your turkey, with your ham, your whiter meats.
Do you have any advice for other women wanting to join the industry?
Do your research. Get to know the industry and network within the industry. Go work for another winery; do a harvest; really understand what the wine industry is about. Don’t just start a brand. In wine, there needs to be passion behind it, so go find that passion.