Tennessee’s Minority-Owned Wine and Spirits Association Celebrates Immediate Impact of Industry Collaboration

   July 19th, 2022             Client News

Nashville, TN (July 19, 2022) – The Tennessee Minority-Owned Wine and Spirits Association (TMOWSA) is emphasizing the impact of collaboration on reaching one of the new organization’s key priorities, improving access to local, minority-owned brands. This month, association partner and Nashville landmark Last Chance Liquors celebrated its grand re-opening with an event that highlighted TMOWSA brands, now featured in a premier section of the store. TMOWSA was founded by seven black-owned wine and spirits brands headquartered in Nashville, a key marker in the Historic Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

“One thing we identified early on is that there is a true desire from companies to partner with minority-owned brands. In Nashville, both Nissan Stadium and FedEx Forum partner with black-owned Slim and Husky’s, but the independent spirits industry still isn’t being represented at most local spots,” said Jason Ridgel, President of TMOWSA. “Working together, we have more clout to go to big players and demand the inclusion of minority-owned spirits brands too. I am proud to say that Guidance Whiskey is now served on Nashville’s historic Broadway.”

At launch, TMOWSA was the first minority-led wine and spirits association in the U.S. The seven Nashville-based members, which include four Tennessee State University alumni, are Uncle Nearest, Guidance Whiskey, Twisted Sistuhs, Disbelief Tequila, Fiyori Vodka, La Leyenda Mezcal, and Reverence Bourbon.  All seven TMOWSA brands are sold throughout Middle Tennessee, but they are still relatively unknown nationwide. Even inclusion on the menu at Nashville bars and restaurants is a challenge, with national distributors a hurdle in accessing the members’ own backyard.

The association’s first goal is making sure that minority-owned wine and spirits brands are available where locals shop. In a big early win, Last Chance Liquors chose all seven TMOWSA brands to feature in its grand reopening. The iconic store is one of the oldest in the state and the new owner’s decision to feature local brands with marquee real estate is a chance to reach new customers, each with the potential to become an ambassador for independent, minority-owned brands.

“We’re proud to carry these products and provide an equitable platform for local minority-owned brands to exhibit their work to our customers,” said Richard Exton, Jr., Last Chance Liquors. “By supporting TMOWSA we know we are not only supporting the existing community but creating an opportunity for the next great wine or spirits brand.”

TMOWSA is also working to connect its members with the tourists who visit Nashville looking to experience all the city has to offer. Independent wine and spirits brands deliver the unique taste and hands-on experience of a location that visitors appreciate. Next on the agenda is reaching out to minority-owned wine and spirit brands in other states to encourage cross-state collaboration. TMOWSA is also working on a roadmap for minority-owned brands. The idea for TMOWSA began in March 2022 at a gathering of Nashville-based founders to share lessons learned and navigate new challenges in the competitive beverage industry together.

“The inspiration to create TMOWSA was sparked by an understanding early on in my own experience with Guidance Whiskey that to succeed in this turbulent and competitive market, we were going to need to stick together,” said Ridgel. “Working together, TMOWSA has helped Guidance secure better distribution, materials, and partnership opportunities, strengthen our marketing impact, and reach more potential customers and investors. We are transforming the brands Nashville is known for around the world – by showcasing the true spirit of Tennessee.”