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Since February is Black History Month what better way to recognize it than with a dinner highlighting some great California wines made by African American Winemakers? Did you know that there are more than 7,000 wineries in the United States but only 20 of them are owned or made by African Americans? According to Roberta Rinaldi of Wine Noir, a meet-up group and broker for wines made by African Americans, history tells us that African Americans first appeared as vineyard workers for Thomas Jefferson, who liked French and Italian wines. But there is a limited amount of history known up until 1997 when Iris Rideau, who is of Creole heritage, started Rideau Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, becoming the first African-American female winery owner in the United States.
Oh how I love Pinot Noir!  With descriptors that range from black and/or red cherry, raspberry, strawberry and currant to mushroom, earth, forest, smoke, incense and spice, Pinot Noir shines when paired with food.  At the end of January, the 3rd Annual Southern California Pinot Days took place at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica.  With close to 100 producers, there were Pinots from Central Coast, Northern California, Oregon and Burgundy to taste.  With only a couple hours to taste, here are just a few of my favorites: