With 20 years invested in the wine and spirits business, Ingrid Best knows a good blend. She’s putting her expertise behind the label with iBest Wines, her new South African wine brand launched in October 2023. “I am a lover of wine,” she tells EBONY. “It was only until about five years ago I discovered that South Africa had a wine region I didn’t know.”
Tapping into the art and culture of the African region, Best has created two incredible blends perfect for every occasion. More impressively, she’s given her female-forward staff a vested stake in the company from the ground up.
Here, Best tells EBONY more about the brand and the perfect time to drink iBest Wines.
What inspired you to go to South Africa to create your brand?
I went on a discovery and fell in love with South Africa and decided I would do this; I’m going to launch a wine from South Africa. I spent tons of time researching and identifying what I wanted to do and what I wanted the brand to stand for. I wanted to immerse myself in the process. I think the biggest thing for me was making sure I planted roots in South Africa and got the people’s blessing to do it.
Your company is a blend of your first initial and last name!
Yes, it’s my namesake. For me, it’s a play on my old and new. If you think about old wine houses, they’re typically family names. And I just so happened to have the luck of the draw that my last name is Best. When the trademark came through, I was so happy.
Tell us about the wines you’ve launched.
I was very deliberate in launching blends. I have a white blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. I have a red blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Petite Syrah and Malbec. I wanted to show the breadth of the varietals from South Africa and take people on a journey. The blends are sophisticated but approachable. I think Black and brown people have felt that wine brands aren’t speaking to them or there hasn’t been enough representation. So, it was important not to isolate any new drinkers on their discovery. But then you have folks like myself who have been drinking wine for a long time. And I would like to think my palate is developed. I also wanted to ensure that the sophisticated wine drinker could enjoy the blends. They’re both just beautifully balanced and blended.
When’s the perfect time to drink iBest Wines?
I enjoy a glass of iBest wine when the sun sets, and I know I don’t have much left to do and can dive into one of my art books. I’m relaxing and setting the tone for what I want my evening to be. You don’t have to have a big scene set up. It could just be you and a beautiful glass of wine. I also love to put on one of our fun playlist mixes we’ve been working on with some friends. The backdrop of good music and a good glass of red blend is always nice.
You’re giving your staff equity in this endeavor. Why was that important to you?
I’ve been so blessed. I had the capital to go on this venture and actually launch a wine on my own. It was hugely important for me to be willing to share in equity with the team of women who have helped me build this. It’s just something that was near and dear to my heart; I wanted to let this be a path for women to have an opportunity to own something. Oftentimes, we don’t get those opportunities. I know I did and worked out some incredible things in the past, though I would have loved to have a piece of the pie. The fact that I can do it now means so much to me. It’s my brand, but it’s it’s their brand too.
How has your life changed from establishing this connection to South Africa?
Connecting with people in South Africa has been one of my life’s most transformative experiences. I have family there now. I have people that have fully supported me through this journey. I have a whole community excited about my launching iBest wines in South Africa, which we intend to do to take the brand global. Going to Africa to establish my roots and be so welcomed was life-changing. I’ve been all over the world and there hadn’t been anywhere that, as a Black woman, I felt like I was home and welcomed in such a way. The food is incredible. The wine, obviously, is incredible. The people, the culture and the music make it one of the world’s most beautiful and dynamic places in the world.
We don’t hear much about South African wines.
I wanted to focus on South Africa because it’s so underrepresented. You go to your wine shops and restaurants and don’t see a lot of South African wine. I’m hoping that iBest wines can help champion just the category. There are incredible winemakers from South Africa and incredible wine brands. And they deserve to be as focused on as Italy, France, Napa and all those other great places.
What’s the next grape or variety that you would like to explore?
We have a couple of things up our sleeve. I want to explore doing a single varietals release. The sparkling category is very interesting as well. South Africa makes incredible sparkling wine. You wait and see!
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