My husband and I recently traveled to the Paso Robles wine region in California. In preparation for this trip, we recommended that our friend watch the Tin City documentary about winemakers in the area. Amber, our friend and traveling companion, said, “The documentary was great, but where are all the people of color winemakers and drinkers/participants”? From this, an idea was born.

Our Goal to Support Diverse Businesses

Believing these business owners have unique challenges, we decided to seek out and support a few diverse businesses as a way to do our part to help out. The goal was to make this intentional and go beyond the small businesses and ethnic restaurants we might have visited on any vacation, though these are also important.

A Vacation with Intentions of Supporting Diverse Businesses - Amber

The Process to Seek Diverse Businesses

I heard that Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) made it easier to identify minority and women-owned businesses. We started with the local CVB. When that didn’t give us any insight, we Googled “Paso Robles minority-owned businesses.” We repeated this process for some other areas where we would be spending time as well. From that, we found a few articles highlighting minority and women-owned businesses we could visit. It took a little digging, but finally, we were on to something!

Highlights of Our Visit

Our research brought us to two businesses worth mentioning:


Raymond Smith, the owner of the Indigene Cellars, is among an elite group of black winemakers. We were fortunate to have Raymond serve our tasting, which highlights a small, family business as well, a double win! While chatting with him, we found out that some of the delicious award-winning wines support the community. Proceeds from his Vernado Grande wine are donated to first responders. The proceeds from the Philanthropist go to the Boys & Girls Clubs. These are just a few ways Raymond supports his community. Raymond was recently featured on KSBY in a local news feature that makes some excellent points about the effect of the pandemic on diverse businesses.


Desparada, led by Owner and Winemaker Vailia From, also resulted in a great time tasting and chatting. Vailia ended up serving most of our tasting and we were taken in by her charm and passion for wine, diversity, and doing the right thing. I mentioned the concept of this post, which resulted in a conversation about how she does her part to encourage diversity and inclusion within her business. An example, which she said sprang from her husband’s winery (they own two between them), is that she offers:

  • Paid vacation
  • Maternity leave
  • 401k
  • Other benefits
A Vacation with Intentions of Supporting Diverse Businesses - Indigene Raymond Smith

These benefits are a big lift for her 20 person or so company. You can also find Desparada on Instagram.

Jillian Wheland, a Desparada staffer, shared this about working at Desparada: “As a recipient of paid maternity leave (and the ability to bring my kid to work when she was little!) and the 401k and all the other amazing perks my lovely employers offer, I’m happy to talk to anyone about how wonderful they are to us! First-hand testimony here!” She went on to say, “One extra cool thing they do is provide lunch every day for staff. Whether that means someone cooking at the winery (both wineries have great kitchens) or ordering out, we always eat very well and get that extra time to sit together and talk.”

MeetGreen’s Culture

Not meaning to self-promote, but Desarada’s culture made me think of MeetGreen, another small, woman-owned business. The company’s commitment to our employees via 401K and health insurance has always meant so much to me. Community culture and having fun at work is fostered through things like shared lunches at favorite restaurants or brought in to be shared at the office conference table, and my favorite as an entirely remote employee, the company’s annual retreat on the Oregon Coast.

A Vacation with Intentions of Supporting Diverse Businesses - Desparada Jillian Wheland

We’ll See You Next Time

Miss Odette’s Creole Kitchen and Hubba Wines, we’re sorry we didn’t make it to see you but will next time! Junk Girls, we love your focus on up-cycling and appreciate you reminding us to “Imagine.” Finley Family Nursery, you win the up-cycle prize for our trip!

A Vacation with Intentions of Supporting Diverse Businesses - Imagine
A Vacation with Intentions of Supporting Diverse Businesses - Finley Family Nursery

Supporting Minority-Owned Businesses and Diversity

MeetGreen has always had a sustainability focus, and I am really proud of our team for beginning to make an effort to consciously factor in social issues as well. This has given me the knowledge and impetus to act upon my friend’s comment about diversity and supporting those businesses. I’m happy to say it all came together with some new, interesting, and diverse experiences! Cheers!