August is Black Owned Business Month, where Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs are recognized and celebrated for their growth, successes, and milestones. We’re proud to celebrate the local Black-owned businesses in our communities this month and every month.
Lisa Davis, the owner of Veritas Wine Experience in New York City, offers city dwellers a wine experience like no other. Her events include education on wine, tastings, and a chance to create great memories with family, friends, or coworkers. We first got to know Lisa and her company when we worked with her to host events for members at our New York City homes. She spoke with us about her time at culinary school, her business’ mission, and why she loves what she does.
Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your company, and how it got started?
Hi! My name is Lisa! I’m a proud alumna of The Culinary Institute of America, Florida International University, and a Certified Sommelier with The Court of Master Sommeliers of America. I am happiest when sitting at a table with close friends or perfect strangers. There is something about it that I fell in love with in culinary school but could never quite name, but this is where my love for wine education truly took root.
In culinary school, I struggled through our mandatory wine education class. It was by far the most intense course of the curriculum, so I wasn’t alone. Every day my classmates and I would meet for breakfast, share a coffee, study notes, and then head to class. We would then grab dinner and study more after. We all passed thankfully, but what I really walked away with, aside from a newfound hobby, was an unshakable sense of community and camaraderie. We not only knew where Sauvignon Blanc grew best, or how to “blind” it in a lineup, but we knew each other’s favorite foods, greatest fears, loves lost, and sincerest hopes for the future. That experience always makes me think about how the human condition really exists through education and the simple act of sharing.
What is Veritas Wine Experiences’ mission?
My business’ mission is to create fun, connection-driven experiences that take all the intimidation out of learning about wine. Veritas Wine Experiences was founded on the idea that no matter what you brought to the table in terms of your background, that there would always be a seat for you and always something someone can learn from you even if you think you know nothing at all. Wine is, like people are, a vast thing. It’s not black or white, and it’s not meant to be examined as a marker of status or intelligence. It’s meant to bring people together.
How has your business grown and changed over time?
I’m always surprised at how busy we are! The real change I think came when I felt more empowered to really push the envelope with classes. So instead of a classical wine tour through France, I’ve done classes on all the wine France refuses to give a legal designation to.
Do you have any tips for other first-time business owners?
Authenticity resonates. Always be willing to change your mind.
Can you tell us about the first event you hosted?
It was a simple two wine tasting at a small law firm that responded to one of my cold emails. I was so nervous and likely spoke a mile a minute but I had a blast. I knew I had to continue doing it!
Do you have a memorable experience or favorite event that you’ve hosted?
My favorite events are the ones I get to host with my friends in the food and wine industry. I have so much respect for them that just the planning alone brings me joy. Imagine planning a party about your favorite things with some of your favorite people, that’s what it feels like.
You live in Astoria— what do you love about the neighborhood? Do you have any favorite local spots?
I love Astoria because it reminds me somewhat of living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my hometown. Things are just a little slower-paced here, people say hi to one another. Also, I get to live near water (another Floridan thing I just can’t shake) and the food is absolutely incredible. My favorite spot to buy wine is Bodega Wines & Spirits, ask for Freddy, he’s amazing. For food, I really like Enthaice Thai Kitchen and Queens Room. My favorite coffee shop is Balancero on 37th st.
What do you love most about owning a business in New York City?
The diversity. I love that each event is never the same and I get to meet such kind-hearted and interesting people who have nothing in common with me except our curiosity for wine.
Thanks, Lisa! If you’re interested in learning about and tasting delicious wine and having a blast while doing it, book an event today!
August is coming to an end, but we’re proud to support and highlight Black-owned businesses year-round. To discover more amazing local businesses across our communities check out our Local Highlights section on our blog.