How This Entrepreneur Is Uncorking The Wine World
When it comes to the global wine industry, straight white men dominate the field. A new company, Go There Wines, is aiming to disrupt things by building a unique platform that is making a difference by championing women winemakers, winemakers of color and queer winemakers from lesser-known regions around the world.
It’s the brainchild of Rose Previte, the force behind a pair of groundbreaking Washington D.C. restaurants: the Michelin-starred Maydan (which specializes in Caucasian, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines) and Compass Rose (which showcases street-food from around the world). Previte launched Go There Wines in 2022 along with her husband, former NPR cohost David Greene, and their longtime friend, social impact entrepreneur Chandler Arnold.
“The barrier to entry in making wine is very high—having land, capital investment and distribution, let alone marketing and promoting your wine. There are so many uphill battles that winemakers face—and it’s compounded when you are a winemaker of color, a woman or queer,” says Previte, who was raised in Ohio and is of Lebanese and Sicilian descent. “Our mission is to provide a market for winemakers in underrepresented communities and wine regions.”
Go There Wines has an innovative business model—the winemakers become partners and share the profits, and the high-design bottles come with inspiring messages. Take, for example, the Sparkling Rosé produced by Nondumiso Pikashe, who runs Ses’Fikile Wines, an indigenous brand based in Paarl, South Africa. The label reads: “This wine celebrates all matriarchs,” as an ode to how Nondumiso is advancing change in South Africa’s wine world. On the bottle of the 2020 Dzvelshavi Dry Red made by sister winemakers Gvantsa and Baia Abuladze of Baias Wine in the Republic of Georgia, the label says: “Men have been making wine in Georgia for 8,000 years. Now, it’s our turn.”
Some of the other winemakers include Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribó (queer women winemakers behind Camins 2 Dreams in California’s Santa Ynez Valley), Maria Frangieh (a professor and winemaker in Lebanon) and Abdullah Richi (a Syrian refugee making wine in exile in Lebanon, in partnership with Mersel Winery), just to name a few.
“When Rose, David and Chandler approached us to be one of Go There’s winemakers, we were thrilled. To work with partners who believe in the story of a multi-generation winemaker family creating organic, biodynamic wines has been incredible,” says Baia Abuladze. “Ever since we started working with Go There Wines, we’ve seen more people celebrate Georgian wines.”
Given that Previte’s husband is a former NPR host, it’s no surprise that storytelling figures heavily. “On every bottle of Go There Wines you have a QR code with a tiny portal into the story of the winemaker,” says Previte. “We don’t want people to just buy a bottle for a pretty label—now they can buy it because they ‘met’ the winemaker. Their stories are at the heart of what we do.”
According to Previte, the company was a pandemic baby. “We all started talking about what we really wished we could do,” says Previte. “Chandler’s background is as an entrepreneur in social impact and David’s is as a journalist and with mine in hospitality each of us brought to the table our own unique experiences and perspective.”
It also helped that during the pandemic, new laws and regulations about shipping alcohol by mail were put into place, kickstarting a boom in the world of wine clubs and direct-to-consumer online sales of wine and liquor. “We saw opportunity,” says Previte.
Another influence: the couple’s experience living in Russia when Greene was with NPR. “We traveled to over 30 countries in three years. The one we just kept coming back to time and time again and truly fell in love with was Georgia,” says Previte. “I still remember tasting Georgian wine for the first time and being blown away thinking, ‘Why have I never had this wine before in the States?’ When it finally came time to return to DC and I decided to open Compass Rose as a reflection of all those street foods and flavors we had while living abroad, I knew it was my mission to have Georgian wine be a central part of the restaurant.”
But featuring small winemakers has had its challenges. “It’s never easy to open a restaurant—especially your first one—but to trying to figure out how to import wines from small makers that were largely not available in the U.S. was something extra,” says Previte.
At her restaurants, Previte passionately supports small winemakers around the globe and often travels to visit the places where the wines are made and meet the winemakers. At Maydan, she has even started an annual wine and cultural festival to create a physical market for makers to share their goods and to host panel discussions about timely topics like the impact of climate change and women leading the charge in the wine industry. Her guests love it, too. “I’ve seen firsthand how much demand there is to discover and support new wines and winemakers, whether that’s introducing someone to a region they haven’t tasted before or sharing the story of a winemaker we have come to know and love,” says Previte.
Besides creating an equitable and accessible platform that helps winemakers innovate and grow, Go There Wines also channels the transformative power of travel. “We hope the name stirs that desire on the other end of the glass—that after trying the wine or hearing the story of these winemakers, that you’ll want to go there yourself,” says Previte.
Meet The Winemakers
Here, Previte gives a sneak peek at a handful of the winemakers who partner with Go There Wines and shares some videos where you can learn more about their work. “We flew all over the world to create these videos that capture in their own words who they are and why they do what they do,” says Previte.
Nondumiso Pikashe: A South Africa Winemaker
“When we met Nondumiso Pikashe, who runs Ses’Fikile Wines, she explained to us that she named her wines for a word meaning ‘we have arrived’ to reflect the constant awareness that Black women, such as herself, have been excluded from the world of wine in South Africa for far too long,” says Previte. “Her determination to be a winemaker against all these odds is so inspiring and why we wanted to work together to support her growth and success for generations to come.” Pikashe produces Go There’s 2018 Reserve Pinotage and 2021 Extra Brut Reserve Sparkling Rosé. Learn more about Pikashe—a former high school teacher—here.
Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribó: Santa Ynez-Based Winemakers
Tara Gomez and Mireia Taribó are a wife-and-wife duo who met making wine together in 2006, got married in 2014 and started their own winery—Camins 2 Dreams—in 2017. “They were introduced to wine at a young age. Mireia’s introduction was in Catalonia, Spain, where wine is considered a food, and Tara as a member of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians, where she loved to explore the world through her microscope,” says Previte. They produce Go There’s 2019 Syrah. Meet Sara Gomez and Mireia Taribó here.
Maria Frangieh: A Lebanon-Based Winemaker
Maria Frangieh is a professor and winemaker in Lebanon. “Maria has a personal passion for pushing the boundaries of traditional winemaking, including the outdated notion that winemaking is only for men,” says Previte. “In 2020 Maria sold her first commercially produced wine—a dream turned to reality during a very challenging year.” She produces Go There’s 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Merwah Blend. See Frangieh in action here.
Gvantsa and Baia Abuladze: Georgia-Based Winemakers
“Men have been making wine in the country of Georgia for more than 8,000 years. While sisters Gvantsa and Baia Abuladze celebrate this rich winemaking history, they are also charting a new path for women in wine,” says Previte. “As young women bringing fresh perspectives, they have been taking bold risks and have been featured in publications such as the Washington Post and Forbes in their 2019 Europe 30 under 30: Art & Culture list.” The sisters produce Go There’s 2020 Krakhuna Amber and 2020 Dzvelshavi Dry Red. Get to know Gvantsa and Baia here.