The Exceptional Vine™ is a global wine industry initiative focused on inviting, orienting educating, grooming and mentoring students and young adults from high schools, community colleges, and universities for professional careers within the wine industry.
The Pott Sisters
What is The Exceptional Vine™ Structure?
The Exceptional Vine™ intends to:
• Launch the country’s only Inaugural education and career focused Wine Industry Summit for youth and young adults.
• Host Back-to-School evenings, inviting high school-age youth and their parents to learn about the depth and variety of career and educational opportunities within the wine industry.
• Present information sessions for community college students to invite those students to explore the wine industry.
• Host similar sessions at Colleges and Universities to recruit, invite, and welcome students to apply for fellowships, internships, scholarships, jobs, higher education, careers, professional development, and more.
• Collaborate with the best minds in the wine industry to establish The Exceptional Vine™ Academy for career, education, and professional development for youths and adults of color.
What are the Desired Outcomes for The Exceptional Vine™?
To partner with and lean on the wine industry at large, to create the country's first global initiative that genuinely, actively and strategically addresses, creates, and provides coordinated academic and professional wine industry-specific programs and opportunities for people of color within our multi-billion-dollar wine industry.
The Napa Valley and Sonoma County, two of the world's most iconic multi-billion-dollar wine regions, are short drives from Oakland. Both are similar—if not mirror images—to the other multi-billion-dollar industry nestled in Oakland’s other back yard: The Silicon Valley. The wine industry has a business imperative to bring, engage and retain youths and adults of color into professional careers and a range of opportunities within our massive industry. There is also a pressing moral and ethical responsibility to permanently create comfortable space for visible diversity, equity, and inclusion within our industry.
How was The Exceptional Vine Founded:
When the Founder of the Oakland Wine Festival, Melody Fuller, decided to bring fine wines, world-renown winemakers and iconic vintners to Oakland for a day and night of relationship-building and wine-sharing, many doubted that this could happen. Some did not see the logic or value of such interfacing and others raised questions about the existence of wine enthusiasts and fine-wine curious in Oakland.
Undeterred, Melody, built a beloved annual event that successfully invites people who may not have previously been invited to sit at the table with wine industry legends.
Since its inception in 2014, the Oakland Wine Festival has beautifully introduced 400 plus outstanding vintners and wineries and well over 600 of their wines throughout our popular Double-Blind Educational Tasting: The Judgment of Oakland™ , The Elegant Baby Grand Seated Tasting, The Biscuits, Bacon and Bottles Brunch, The Intimate Winemaker Luncheon, The Exquisite Winemaker Dinner, our Themed Summer Receptions and our highly anticipated, Silent Auction. 95% of our participating winemakers had never poured or presented their wines in Oakland, California before The Oakland Wine Festival.
Late 2017, addressing the severe lack of employment, education, and career invitations and opportunities for African Americans and other people of color within this vast multi-billion-dollar industry continued to nag Melody to do something.
For decades the fixed presence of multiple barriers, policies, practices and traditions, right in her own wine country backyards, rattled her, thus loudly calling her to commit to building systematic and collaborative examination of these industry realities to determine what she could do, with the help of her friends in the industry, to unpack and mend this long overdue situation.
This is how The Exceptional Vine™ Initiative was founded.
Melody Fuller, Founder
The Exceptional Vine™