Grand Rapids makes a splash in West Michigan  

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Dozens of people reviewed more than a dozen African American entrepreneurs in the wine and liquor industry at the City Flats Hotel on Saturday.

“This event is a celebration of diversity and entrepreneurship, much like over 30 African American liquors, brands and businesses in downtown Grand Rapids so people can come and taste and experience everything that is going on in the liquor ecosystem,” says co-founder Jonathan Jelks.

The Roche collection from Kalamazoo was one of the centerpieces of the Taste of Black Spirits Grand Rapids.

“I’m Nicole Roche. I am the first African American winemaker in Michigan. “

The winery started out two years ago to chat and hang out with friends and eventually go to a tasting room.

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Roche says it failed to realize that strong African American wine-making entrepreneurs are absent.

“I was quite surprised, but also inspired to do my best and actually continue my education,” said Roche.

“Diversity in the spirits industry is low, but it is increasing; there is a movement; There’s a lot of energy behind it, ”said Jelks.

Roche says it wants to share this energy and pass it on to others who want to be in this industry.

“We simply continue the reach by making ourselves available and approachable. Because that’s exactly what we need in this industry so that we can all feel welcome and all be successful and survive, ”said Roche.

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