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It was another example of the determination that has made this schoolteacher and divorced mother of three the proprietor of the first Black-owned winery in New Orleans, and one of the few in the United States.

Lewis, 36, took photos for visitors and smiled warmly as she described the flavors, the process and the passion behind each of her bottles. Lewis produced her first bottles in Marchdry and semi-sweet white wines made from Louisiana-grown blanc du bois grapes.

A self-taught vintner, Lewis had a difficult start in the wine industry.

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But Lewis pulled from her entrepreneurial past and powered ahead. Lewis was born and raised in Algiers, graduated from L. Landry High School in and attended Jackson Miss.

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She later ran her own businesses: a trucking and transportation company and a health services company that provides sitters for elderly and disabled people. But the dissolution of her marriage in left her wanting a fresh start and a new challenge. Wine had always been a comforting part of her life; Lewis said she had a glass in hand for every occasion. What began as an amusing suggestion during drinks with friends quickly became a new career.

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Lewis started by researching wine making and the wine industry, reading anything and everything she could find. Lewis expanded to buying bulk wine juice and grapes, which she began filtering, bottling and labeling herself on-site at her winery, Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. She established a relationship with a Texas vineyard and she began working to blend and create flavors for new wines.

Her latest baby, Vieux Carre Rose was to debut Friday.

Storage tanks are on the way to the Central City winery. But Lewis and her staff — that is, her children and friends — have already crushed the grapes and barreled them up for a wine that she estimates will be ready in two to three years.

Many people have a narrow idea of what it means to be part of the wine industry, envisioning a winery owner with fields of grapes and dusty cellars full of barrels. Founded inthe Association of African American Vintners was a way for Black wine makers to connect and learn from one another.

While there were thousands of Black people making wine at home, there were only eight to 10 who also were growing the grapes and selling their wines commercially, Garcia said. Now, there are about people of color in the U. In a recent webinar hosted by the association and Wine Enthusiast, vintners of color discussed the challenges and lack of diversity in the industry. She said landownership and access to money were historical roadblocks for people of color seeking a way into the industry.

Wine can also be intimidating, making a spot in the industry seem unreachable. The Association of African American Vintners wants to change that.

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It may not be growing grapes; it may not be crushing grapes. It could be selling wine; it could be as a sommelier.

When she started out, Lewis had to surmount misconceptions and doubts about her abilities and her wine. A lot of doors were closed, she said, before she finally got one of her first big breaks, her retail debut in New Orleans. He identified with the challenges Lewis faced, as he, too, battled them when he opened Second Vine. How are you going to do wine education? Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Kim Lewis had a business relationship with Pontchartrain Vineyards.

She did not. The post has been updated. Edit Close. Toggle .

Close 1 of Top stories in New Orleans in your inbox Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. up today. Purchases made via links on our site may earn us an affiliate commission. These are 10 of the best espresso makers and accessories on sale now.

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