Black-Owned Vineyard Continues to Make an Impact in Maryland
“Great wine starts in the vineyard. It starts with great grapes,” said Denise Matthews, co-owner of Philosophy Wines.
Especially if it’s Maryland grapes.
The Big Cork floor in Thurmont is where it all begins for Kimberly Johnson and her partner Matthews.
“Maryland wine is agriculture, so working with wineries, Maryland farmers, from the east coast to Montgomery County,” Matthews said.
“We have a wish list, but time dictates which grapes will be good enough for us to make wine,” Johnson said.
2018 marked the birth of Philosophy Wines, two 16-year-old friends decided to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.
“We crush, we sort, Lord have mercy if someone wants to help us sort the grapes, we need help. The treadmill goes fast and you pick up the grapes, everything so it’s a product we’re on. have had our hand from the very beginning,” Johnson said.
This is where the work is done and the wine is made at the Wine Collective in Hampden. They use the space with other small businesses.
“It’s millions of dollars worth of equipment. It was the perfect scenario for us and we’ve enjoyed every minute of being part of the co-op. We can come here and make our own wine and then bottle and sell our own wine,” Matthews said.
Between Johnson’s knowledge of the industry and Matthews’ background in business and service as a sommelier, they ventured into uncharted territory, two black women opening their own winery.
It is an industry where there is a small representation of women and people of color.
“Kimberly and I are very social, we’re definitely blessed but we’re people, people and so we don’t allow anything to get in our way,” Matthews said.
Friendships Johnson trained volunteering at the Old Westminster Winery has helped them get to where they are today, even in 2020.
“During the pandemic they had farmers markets on Sundays and so they allowed us to come into their cellar and sell our wine, like who’s doing that. Who’s going to have you in their space, but they did,” Matthews said.
Now four years in business, five wines later, including 3 award-winning ones, they take pride in the product they produce and put on store shelves.
“We make a great wine. It’s not a black wine. It’s not a black woman’s wine. It’s a great wine, we have loyal customers, they buy because the product is good”, Matthews said.
For more information on Philosophy Winery, click here.