Rodney Tipton, co-owner of Acquiesce Winery, felt helpless when he watched the nation struggling with the George Floyd incident. And he wasn’t about to stand idly by. He and his wife, Sue, immediately began to research how to make a difference within the Lodi wine industry. “I found data indicating the great diversity gap in the global wine industry and I began to think about how Acquiesce and others in the Lodi industry might help close that gap,” Tipton says. “After speaking with several fellow winery owners, it was clear that with the great breadth of wine related disciplines here in Lodi, plenty could be done.”
Tipton quickly realized the most effective way to actualize his goal of inclusivity was to open doors to under-represented communities through hands-on immersion and networking. Before long, the Lodi Appellation Inclusion Collective was born, and Tipton had recruited some of the most well-respected players in the region to donate funds. LAIC is comprised of grape growers, winery owners, marketing professionals, and financial pros.
The progressive LAIC members mobilized quickly to create an enrichment program and teamed up with the Roots Fund (a non-profit organization with a mission to invest in communities of color to provide those seeking a career in all aspects of wine). The goal was to bring in scholars and interested individuals from under-represented communities to Lodi wine country, immerse them in every aspect of the industry, and expose them to career opportunities in the region. In June, the LAIC hosted five participants in a three-and-a-half-day program where they experienced all aspects of the Lodi wine industry from vineyard operations to winemaking, marketing, and sales. Winery owner and growers hosted the participants with jubilance for dinners, vineyard tours, winemaking seminars, and round table discussions.
The group plans to host at least two Enrichment Camps each year, aiming to increase the racial and cultural diversity in the Lodi wine industry and the industry at large. The goal is simple—be the change you wish to see in the world.
The LAIC is a qualified 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization. To join or make a donation, visit LAIC-Collective.com
LAIC Members & Sponsors
Markus and Liz Bokisch, Bokisch Vineyards
Farrah Felten Jolley, Klinker Brick
John and Lisa Gash, PRIE Winery
Tom and Carmela Hoffman, Heritage Oak Winery
Ben and Madelyn Kolber, KG Vineyard Management
David Phillips, Michael David Winery
David and Heather Lucas, The Lucas Winery
First Enrichment Camp Participants for LAIC
Christopher Salcedo—Sommelier in Training, Irvine, CA.
Daren Clark—Winemaking Intern at Haynes Vineyard, Napa Valley
Lindsey Rose—Sommelier, Seattle, WA.
Andrew Mihm—Current Student Completing M.S. in Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis
Jamila Janneh—Law Student, with interest in transitioning to the wine industry