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Miami-Based Winemaker Donae Burston Gets Boost From Alcohol Giant

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Miami-based winemaker Donae Burston, founder and CEO of La Fête du Rosé, has caught the attention of Miami Beach hotels, Target and Trader Joe's. Now, the wine label will partner with beverage behemoth Constellation Brands, which announced Thursday it would acquire a minority stake in the company.

CBS4 News first profiled La Fête du Rosé in August of 2020. Burston told CBS4 News back then he wanted to push back against the stereotypes of rosé wine and make the beverage broadly appealing and more inclusive to all races and genders.

It's apparently working.

La Fête du Rosé is the first company to receive investment dollars as part of Constellation's Focus on Minority Founders initiative launched last summer. Constellation Brands committed to investing $100 million on minority-owned businesses in the beverage alcohol industry by 2030, according to a company spokesperson.

Donae Burston
Donae Burston (Courtesy La Fête Rosé)

"Donae has created a truly unique and distinctive lifestyle brand, and we believe the rosé category continues to have a lot of growth potential," Jennifer Evans, Constellation's vice president of ventures, wrote via email.

Evans said Constellation is looking for brands that set themselves apart in the market and that are looking to grow. She credited La Fête du Rosé's consumer-first approach to building a brand that reflects today's multicultural consumer values.

Constellation's faith in the product will inject further energy into the brand, Burston said.

"For so many minority-owned businesses, the hardest part is access to capital and infrastructure," he added. "We want to continue to grow and grow the right way while maintaining our brand's story."

Burston launched La Fête du Rosé in 2019.

La Fête du Rosé Wine
La Fête du Rosé (Courtesy: Gary James/Courtesy La Fête Rosé)

"La Fête translates into the rosé's party. So, our tagline is 'It's a party and everyone is invited," explained Burston in 2020.

Burston has been in the spirits industry for years in South Florida. Throughout his career, he'd noticed rosé marketed as a feminine beverage that was little more than alcohol-flavored pink water.

But Burston knew better. He had had ample opportunity to visit the south of France, where rosé is a popular summer drink among men and women alike. At a cocktail party during the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, he made contacts at Domaine Bertaud Belieu in Saint-Tropez; soon afterward, he launched the first Black-owned rosé label produced in the region.

His rosé leans toward dry, with notes of fresh strawberries and hazelnut. The magazine Wine Enthusiast bestowed 90 points on La Fête, praising it for a ripeness that is "spicy and fresh at the same time."

It pairs with anything, Burston said. On the brand's Instagram page, visitors will see photos of it alongside caviar, French fries or grilled branzino. They will also notice the label's target audience: everyone. And yes, people of color especially.

"For so long, minority wine drinkers were overlooked," Burston said. "We weren't seen as serious consumers in this space."

Rising interest in Black-owned brands has widened the industry's lens, he said. Quarantine and the booming popularity of rosé — with sales growing by more than 40% per year in the U.S., according to the site Wine Economist — have also created a snowball effect that's quickly raised the label's profile.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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