The LGBTQ Presence in the Wine and Spirits Industry
The wine and alcohol sector represents a large portion of the economy. This is not surprising, given the depth of an industry that includes agriculture, packaging, distribution, sales & marketing, and more. In the United States alone, the industry employs 4 million people and generates almost $70 billion in tax revenue for government. Globally, the industry is valued at US$ 1.4 trillion.
Notable LGBTQ people in the industry are rare. It seems that they are there, but largely invisible. A few are winery owners, such as Krista Scruggs and Evan Lewandowski who are founders and owners of their own wineries - the former was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2018. There are winemakers on the list, including Theresa Heredia of Gary Farrell Winery, and also some distillers such as Hollis Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon, Brady Konya of Middle West Spirits, and David Haskell of King's County Distillers. The majority on the list work with large distribution agencies such as Diageo.
The industry is a great supporter of the LGBTQ community. This is in large part due to the fact that the community has a lot of disposable income. It is a large consumer of alcohol, both personally and through activities and events. Gay people like to drink alcohol: 16% more than straight people. According to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs some 75% of gays and lesbians were described as "current drinkers," as compared to 68% of bisexuals and 59% of heterosexuals. And lesbians out-drink gay men.
A lot of marketing by the industry is geared to the LGBTQ community. Many producers have created product specifically targeting LGBTQ consumers.
We have identified the following notable LGBTQ individuals in the wine and spirits industry. Simply click on their names to read their fascinating biographies.
- Amanda Lampe, Diageo
- Mark S. Bonham, former owner of Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
- Neil Tallantire, Diageo
- Zaina Arafat, Managing Editor, VinePair
- James Beard, chef and author
- Matt Bellassai, YouTube commentator on wine
- Stephanie Blackwood, marketing initiatives for ABSOLUT Vodka
- Hollis Bulleit, Bulleit Bourbon Company
- Kenneth Cheuvront, Senator and owner, Cheuvront Wine & Cheese
- David Haskell, Kings County Distillery
- Theresa Heredia, Winemaker at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery
- Mary-Frances Heck, Senior Editor of Food & Wine
- Brady Konya, Middle West Spirits
- Evan Lewandowski, Ruth Lewandowski Wines
- Ben Mims, Editor of Food & Wine
- Gary Saperstein, Out in the Vineyard travel company
- Lee Schrager, Producer of the Miami Wine & Food Show
- Krista Scruggs, Winemaker and Owner, Krista Scruggs Winery
- Jay Sethi, Diageo Beer