Just east of Atlanta, right outside of the suburb of Decatur lies the Purple Corkscrew Tasting Room, a wine shop.
And owner Steffini Bethea has spent nearly 10 years creating an eclectic space to educate consumers and push them to expand their vino boundaries. And while her shop has built up quite a diverse clientele, Bethea has been especially intentional about making wine more accessible to people of color.
At the core of that decision were two personal experiences. First, the Purple Corkscrew Tasting Room is the culmination of Bethea’s own love of wine despite an admittedly limited palate. After being introduced to Tempranillo, a black grape used in full-bodied reds while in Spain, she was encouraged to start exploring varietals outside of her favorite white and red, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively. While working in a wine bar, she set out to continue educating herself about the wine world in hopes of opening her own bar.
Once she opened the Purple Corkscrew in 2012 and found the shop’s current home in Avondale Estates.
A year later, Bethea tells Food & Wine that the biggest challenge she found was being accepted as a Black woman by the wine community. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been overlooked at trade shows, mistaken for an uninformed customer, or a server at my own shop,” she recounts. “I was not taken seriously by winemakers, suppliers, and importers.”
So Bethea set out to rise above the skepticism.
In addition to acquiring as many certifications as she could from all over the world, she and her team – which happens to be all Black and Female – do approximately 75 tastings each week to handpick the selection of wines available at Purple Corkscrew. The in-store collection includes 350 brands from all regions as well as several Black-owned labels.
Because Bethea believes that the customer experience should be just as important as the sale of a great bottle, the Purple Corkscrew offers a variety of in-person and virtual events and services including a Meet The Winemaker series, and a Sommelier At Home Service.
“We provide an educational experience facilitated by one of our staff members who are all certified,” she explains. “Together, we pick out the wines with the customer, create food pairings, and provide the proper stemware.”
Talk about stepping your wine game up!