Above: Dr. Christine Wachira
Wachira Wines, a 100% woman-owned winery, is revolutionizing the wine industry thanks to Dr. Christine Wachira. As the first Kenyan-born California winemaker, importer, exporter, and distributor, Dr. Wachira’s living her purpose in a profound way.
The Wachira wines alone substantiate a noteworthy story, though there’s far more happening here. Dr. Wachira explains how her love for science informed her pursuits in viticulture. Having a background in clinical outcomes, it’s natural for Dr. Wachira to identify gaps in systems and processes to find solutions.
Wachira Wines came from locating a personal gap. Dr. Wachira shares, “I identified a gap in the wine market as far as representation is concerned…being a Black woman and being an immigrant Black woman.”
The improved outcome is obvious upon trying her personally crafted wines. Dr. Wachira was fueled by her “mother’s and grandmother’s cuisine…wines to pair with my family cooking.” While her family ties birthed Wachira Wines, Dr. Wachira expanded their vision to make wine appropriate any time of day – not just to have with food.
She believes “You should be able to have a glass [of wine] Tuesday morning if you want – not because you’re celebrating anything…I want you to have a glass of cabernet when you get home from work…and you don’t have to pair it with a steak first.” Dr. Wachira feels there are as many wines as there are personalities, and there’s a way to honor that without compromising the wine quality.
It’s called Wachira Wines.
The Wachira Way
Having lived in California since the late ’90s, Dr. Wachira’s lineage has always informed her grit. She explains, “Because of my Kenyan-American heritage, I wanted to craft wines that resonated.” The result is their five varietals, each of which showcases animals of the Kenyan safari.
Wachira Wines offers two reds, two whites, and a sparkling wine option as part of their Big Five label. In their Wine Safaris, Wachira Wines offers their Big Five wines as a way to adventure without leaving the table. Dr. Wachira maps out each wine’s animal correlation. The Zinfandel represents the elephant, the Cabernet’s the rhino, the Muscat’s the leopard, the Sparkling’s the lion, and the Chardonnay’s the buffalo.
Wachira Wines will make you question why animal muses have never before resulted in wine-tastings. It’s brilliant. The reason remains clear – it was Dr. Wachira’s muse to discover.
Wachira Wine Culture
Dr. Wachira basks in the sense of culture and togetherness people can experience over a glass of wine. She marvels at “being at the counter with people from totally different walks of life.” Meeting people is a great joy for Dr. Wachira, “Learning something new about somebody every single day.” For that reason, she’s passionate about making appealing, easy-to-drink wine.
Contrary to the stereotypically snobby wine culture, Dr. Wachira’s certain that “the only palate that’s accurate is yours.” While she admires wine experts and sommeliers for their expertise, the Wachira Wine way’s a bit counterculture. “We just talk about the wine. It could be [a bottle] for $199 or $1.99,” Dr. Wachira claims. Dr. Wachira’s refreshing wine philosophy makes it easy to see how their wine’s impact ripples far beyond what’s in the glass.
Wachira Wines in Today’s World
COVID-19’s reoriented Wachira Wines’ outreach strategies. “We obviously had to pivot,” Dr. Wachira begins. “In the beginning, it was challenging. We had a lot of cancellations. The bulk of our business was wholesale…we had retailers, businesses, restaurants, and bars shutting down…[who] carried our products.” Beyond that, Wachira Wines used festivals and pop-up events for business, which came to an immediate pause.
Still, with fortitude, the Wachira Wines team’s currently focusing on its e-commerce structure over retail. Dr. Wachira mentions how recent news has impacted them. “There’s been a tremendous focus on Black-owned businesses which has been great…very supportive.” She highlights their membership with the African American Chamber of Commerce, as well as their work with The AAAV, or the Association of African American Vintners.
Dr. Wachira reiterates the continued importance of representation. She continues identifying gaps and honoring them with improved outcomes. Part of that mission’s resulted in a distribution network that offers opportunities for Black winemakers to bring their craft to market. “[Some] distributors won’t carry winemakers of color,” Dr. Wachira begins.
Dr. Wachira claims that “0.01% of the wine industry is Black. That’s how incredibly minute we are. Without the opportunity, the funding to get to market, we just can’t make it. So we’ve crafted the distribution network to elevate and carry wines to market, and bring the community with us.” Wachira Wines makes it impossible to dismiss all that’s involved in the crafting of your wildest wine.
Wachira Wines Is Community
Beyond the genius that is Wachira Wines as a concept, the business has a tremendous impact. “Everything about me is heavily influenced by Kenya,” Dr. Wachira names. “…My sense of commitment to equity and equality and championing that for all of us…We really do need to just focus on that…on how more alike than different we are,” she emphasizes.
Despite current obstacles, Dr. Wachira’s motivated as ever. Wachira Wines intends to open a tasting room within the next couple of months upon the local authority’s approval. They’re also building another product line of new blends!
If you’re seeking joy, discovery, or newness during these stagnant times, Wachira Wines is your next adventure. To connect about the growing of grapes, the crafting of wine, or wine as a business, Wachira Wines offers a greater community for all your wine pursuits – even if that’s just drinking it.
Support Wachira Wines today!