Branding has become such a huge thing in 2021------from social media influencers endorsing a brand to a philanthropist throwing their name behind a product. We expect the name behind the product or brand to be socially responsible & highly knowledgeable about the product or brand they represent. With wine brands, we wine professionals are HIGHLY critical. We want to ensure that if we bring these wines into our stores or restaurants, that the person behind it is an authority to be inspired by. I went into this interview with Camillya Masunda (owner of Camellias Organics) completely unsure of where it would go or how I would, emotionally, leave the conversation.
Camillya seeks to unify people of different cultural backgrounds over a beverage that is the intimately tied to the regions it is produced in. The "togetherness of celebrating culture" as she put it during the interview. Before you ask: she is not a wine professional with a myriad of wine accolades or certifications, BUT one day she will be. Camillya's mission with her brand doesn't just stop at a heartwarming story about bringing people together. She is self-aware enough to know that her longevity in this industry will be predicated by her ability, and credibility, as a wine professional. She is currently studying for her Certified Specialist of Wine Certification in an effort to further her wine knowledge and speak from a place of authority over her wine brand, EBONY. In addition, she doesn't want to ever get to a point of knowledge that comes across as intimidating or isolates her audience. Camillya wants wine professionals to admire the crafting of her wines with a scholarly POV and everyday wine drinkers to feel like they can also chime in on the conversation. Creating integration, not separation is what makes wine the ultimate conversationalist beverage, and what Camillya has so wisely tapped into.
This young woman is working in tandem with a few different producers out of California to create the wines of the EBONY line-up. Windsor Vineyards & Michael Scott have been her biggest supporters thus far. She approached them as partners in her vision for this wine brand. Though she does not formally make the wine, she is intimately involved with the winemaking process of her wines in these vineyards. Due to the ever challenging COVD pandemic, Camillya has not been able to physically visit the vineyards or wineries, but has been able to do so virtually to keep up with the day-to-day operation. Samples of different vinified grape varietals are sent to her to taste through & determine which make the most sense to be bottled for her brand, and to ensure quality of the wine. As I will get into later in this post, her wines operate as true showcases of the grape varietal(s) she chooses to utilize. Her focus was on the wines being varietally correct & naturally lending themselves to a new world palate. Seasonality is also a focus for her. She wants certain wines (like her Riesling) to only be available during the fall season, and wants to showcase the varietals during different parts of the year to keep her audience enticed.