Michael Lavelle Wines supports art, philanthropy, and more!
Purchases in the wine and spirits industry have been on the rise amid the pandemic, but how many consumers know what they’re drinking? It’s not always easy to find a quality bottle for a low price. But of course, four HBCU alumni found a way! The resulting product is Michael Lavelle Wines, a black-owned wine brand being sold around the country.
The bond of Howard University graduates Terrence Lavelle Low, Aaron Michael Coad, Brandon Crump, and their business partner Devin Kennedy, who they met while in school, grew tighter thanks to a mutual appreciation for wine and entrepreneurship. Their journey to creating a trustworthy brand began with heavy research into the history of wine, winemaking and the state of the wine industry at the time. They found that their peers tended to educate themselves more on drinks like tequila and vodka, and sought to bridge the gap. They also sought to expose minority wine drinkers to culturally relevant wine craftsmanship. To bring a refreshing new wine to the market, the founders “took creative license to develop a disruptive brand fused with art, education, and most importantly, unmatched wine experiences to fill this void.” With the founders having careers in industries from technology to fashion, they all brought something different to the finished product. Together, they were able to work through bottle shortages and other obstacles in the pandemic to emerge with a product they were proud of.
Launched on Juneteenth in 2020, Michael Lavelle Wines hit the market by choosing Iris Rosé as the brand’s first varietal. “We strategically launched the Iris Rosé as the first varietal because of consumer trends and timing,” said the team. “In fact, according to NielsenIQ, sales of rosé wine in the US increased from $110 million in 2017 to $757 million year to date May 22, 2021. This is a stunning 584% increase.” Iris Rosé was created with cabarnet and pinot grigio grapes from coastal California. The tantalizing flavor has fruity notes of fresh strawberries, morello cherries, and lemon verbana. In the first nine months after launching, the rose became the winery partner’s best-selling e-commerce brand!
For many reasons, Michael Lavelle Wines is blossoming into the high quality, premium wine brand that the founders had dreamed it’d be. The team was intentional about only partnering with small batch wineries, which make it easier to ensure the integrity of every bottle’s flavor is maintained. And while sales are doing well online, the brand is available in states around the country with high concentrations of Black communities: Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Richmond, VA; and Inglewood, CA. In fact, many of the brand’s first retail partners were Black-owned businesses! All the commercial success has even allowed the brand to partner with nonprofits like “The Roots Fund.” Some proceeds for each bottle purchased online go toward a scholarship fund helping an HBCU graduate to live abroad in France to earn an MBA in Wine Business and Management!
Always looking to level up, the team banded together to open an art gallery “We’re proud of our latest expansion, Gallery Lavelle, which elevates emerging and prominent contemporary artists creating work in the scope of African, Black American, and indigenous identity,” they said. Through solo and group exhibitions, Gallery Lavelle was created to encourage dialogue amongst artists, winemakers, and communities they serve. All the while, the platform promotes the visibility and elevation of historically underrepresented groups. Created as an ode to the richness of culture in the founders’ hometowns of Chicago and Washington, DC, local artists in those areas are now receiving a well-deserved spotlight.