NBA star and wine seller Dwyane Wade has joined the board of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis in an effort to bring diversity to the prestigious winemaking program.
According to a statement posted to the school’s website, the department recruited Wade no only due to his work with Wade Cellars – which he co-founded in 2014 – but also due to his commitment to equality and activism, as demonstrated by his work through The Wade Family Foundation and Social Change Fund United.
“I’m excited to join forces with UC Davis to support their efforts in bringing more diversity to the wine industry and make it more inclusive,” Wade said. “Wine is for everyone, and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to create meaningful and impactful change. Together we hope to reach and inspire our community to pursue a career in the wine industry by creating a more equitable and viable pathway to achieve those dreams.”
While the San Francisco Chronicle reports the number of minority students in the UC Davis wine program has grown from 5 percent to 25 percent in the last decade, the school hopes that Wade’s visibility will help them bring even more diversity to the department. “All of our new board leaders have really unique skills to help the department achieve our strategic goals,” says professor David Block, chair of the viticulture and enology department. “They bring excellent communication skills, a passion for diversifying the industry and making sure students receive a great education and fulfilling career, and a passion for wine.”
Wade is one of two new African-American members of the program’s Executive Leadership Board. He is joined by writer, wine educator and speaker Julia Coney, founder of Black Wine Professionals, whose work around diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry earned her Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Social Visionary Award.
Rounding out the new additions to the UC Davis board is Miguel Luna, an award-winning viticulturist who started his career in the wine world as a vineyard worker. Luna is committed to not only helping students see careers in enology and viticulture as a viable path, but also helping immigrant parents and first-generation American students find their way to success through higher education.