Behind the Rise of Native American Wines

Behind the Rise of Native American Wines
Behind the Rise of Native American Wines

The Chief sculpture at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre/Photo courtesy of Milk Creative Communications Several wineries and grape-growing relationships have emerged from Native American reservations in recent years. While each project looks different, they are all deliciously symbiotic.

Tribes in California, New Mexico, Utah and British Columbia have created small, successful and critically acclaimed brands. They also incorporate strict sustainability practices in an effort to protect the land.

Outside winemakers are also working with Native American growers. It’s not just a socially responsible business plan, but an investment in the future. Tara Gomez of Kitá Vineyards/Photo by Benny Haddad Kitá Wines

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

For centuries prior to the arrival of European colonizers in 1492, Native Americans had a sustainable, sometimes spiritual relationship with the land. Centuries of displacement and colonialism disrupted that bond, but in recent years, tribes have sought ways to make ends meet without sacrificing their ideology or values.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians , with land in Santa Barbara County, founded Kitá Wines . The producer grows all of its grapes on tribal land and has a Native American winemaker, Tara Gomez, at its helm. It’s also the first winery and vineyard run solely by tribe members. The word kitá is from the Santa Ynez Chumash native language, Samala, and translates to “our valley oak.”

Gomez fell in love with winemaking after she first set foot in a winery as a child. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians awarded her with […]

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