Get to Know our Drinkclusion Donors


In December 2021, we announced our partnership with Drinkclusion, a Drinks Ontario organization formed to increase diversity, equality, and inclusion in the beverage and alcohol industry.


Since then, Drinkclusion has raised nearly $15,000, and we'd like to introduce you to some of the companies and people that made this possible.



Buyers + Cellars

Margaret Hobbs, Managing Partner





What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

Buyers+Cellars is committed to improving equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within

our own organization and within the broader beverage alcohol industry in Ontario. We

have made a few small strides to this end, including working with wineries that are

owned by or have wines made by underrepresented peoples (for example,

Indigenous Wine World, Uvairenda Srl, Altocedro and Jordan River Wines); leading

the fundraising efforts and participating in the Mentorship Partnership program of the

Drinks Ontario Drinkclusion initiative; and working to improve our hiring practices to

enhance diversity and representation within our company. Since 2020, B+C has been

the Wine Sponsor for The Merit Bursary Award, which provides incentives to pursue

higher education to high-needs and at-risk senior high school students in the GTA.

Racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse students are often labelled as low

achievers and racialized groups of Black and Latin American students lag behind all

other races in attending post-secondary school.

But...

There is still much work to be done, both individually and collectively. To this end, we

have established a B+C Diversity Taskforce whose mandate is to help ensure our

operations and company culture are consistent with our larger EDI goals. This group

of employees will assist in the creation of a Code of Conduct and Employee

Handbook, the development of a Dispute Resolution process and the establishment

of hiring and portfolio development guidelines.

We commit to remain mindful of historic and systemic EDI issues, and to continue to

strive to be better.


What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services?

Buyers + Cellars is a boutique wine agency focused on bringing exciting, esoteric

wines to Ontario. We work with small producers who have a strong connection to the

land and respect for the environment. The B+C Tasting Room opened in 2020 in

downtown Ottawa. This elegant space — located in Somerset Village and part of

Ottawa’s vibrant 2SLGBTQ+ community — is an ideal location for business meetings,

events and wine classes and provides an opportunity for consumers to taste and learn

about wines from around the world.


Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you?

We are inspired by many BIPOC members of the wine world including:

Robert and Bernice Louie of Indigenous World Winery, who merge modern culture

with Indigenous history in B.C.’s only 100% Indigenous-owned winery.

Nstsiki Bayela - as South Africa’s first Black winemaker and director of Aslina Wines,

Ntsiki challenged sexist and racist barriers.

Robin and Andréa MacBride, who built McBride Sisters Wine Company around

inclusivity and sustainability into the largest Black- owned, women-owned winery in

the U.S.

Julia Coney, a wine writer, activist and founder of Black Wine Professionals.


It is our sincere hope that all Drinks Ontario members will support the Drinkclusion

initiative to help grow the spirit of inclusivity in the Ontario beverage alcohol industry.


Georgian Bay Spirit Co.

Tim Keenleyside, Co-founder & Chief Juniper Picker








What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

One of our core values at Georgian Bay Spirit is connection. Our products provide an opportunity for people to come together and connect with one another and their community. Without diversity, equity and inclusion, you can’t maximize opportunities for connection. At the end of the day, a diversity of voices and backgrounds at the table make us stronger as a company. It’s also the key to building a successful society.


What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services? Beyond the fact that we make a wide range of great tasting canned cocktails and spirits that have won all manner of awards (our vodka was even listed by Forbes as one of the 10 best in the world), Georgian Bay Spirit Co. is also focused on giving back to the communities we serve through our Project Connect initiative. You can learn more about Project Connect at https://georgianbayspiritco.com/project-connect


Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you? We are inspired by anyone who challenges established hegemonies, advocates for change, and proudly represents the under-represented. We are encouraged to see a growing focus on diversity and inclusion within our industry and are proud of the growing diversity within our own company. Individuals, organizations and initiatives that are leading the charge to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (Vinequity, Drinkclusion, Ren Navarro at Beer. Diversity, Shehan De Silva at Lost Craft, to name few) deserve credit for inspiring us all to do more.




Le Sommelier

Bernard Stramwasser, Sommelier and Founder





What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

We're proud to work with and represent a diverse group of producers from around the

world, and share their wines with the multicultural province of Ontario over the last 20+ years. We've been fortunate to have a diverse team represent Le Sommelier over this time, growing the company together.


What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services? Most of our 150+ producers are small, family-owned and operated, independent businesses, like ours.


Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you? There are too many to list here! Though we have always appreciated the support, and thoughtful, thorough approach to tasting and pairing that Christopher Sealy has always displayed. His support to our producers, and wines has been valuable, and encouraged us to take risks bringing in some more adventurous wines throughout the years.




The Living Vine

Mark Cuff, CEO











What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

Creating a safe space so that everyone feels like they can speak their mind and have their voice heard What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services?

We represent wineries that take care of the land and their people Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you?Nl’Mip Cellars in BC Andrea Mack

Julia Coney



Select Wines

Dan Sherrocks, Executive Vice President of Business Development








What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

We are an employer that hire the most qualified people. Overtime, as we look at ourselves, today we are proud to have 18 ethnicities, and >50% women. We celebrate together our differences!


What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services?

As an industry pioneer, we have learned to drive impact through agility, market leading brand development, meticulous service, and an inspired workplace. Choosing what is right over what is easy, we have the passion.


Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you?

From my time at Southbrook Farms, I was introduced to Steve Byfield. Steve has persevered and cut a path in the Canadian wine industry; owner and winemaker at Nyarai Cellars based out of Niagara. Steve is currently the only black winemaker in Canada.

Vivian Hatherell of Metro Wines. Vivian is an owner operator of an emerging agency that has focus on premium Sake, beer, and Japanese Liqueurs. Vivian’s passion and drive have recently been recognized by the LCBO Elsie awards and her love of Sake help her create Kampai Toronto. Kampai Toronto is focused on education and increasing awareness of Sake through the annually held Sake festival.



Sleeman Breweries

Matthew Pelton, Provincial Key Accounts Manager









What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean at your organization?

At Sleeman Breweries diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has translated to a journey that we’ve just begun to make our organization reflective of the customers we serve and strive to serve. Even though we’re early on in our journey, we’re pleased to have begun several initiatives with the goal of DEI in mind. Some of these initiatives include:

• A graduate-level scholarship at the University of Guelph for Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), or racialized students

• Creation of an internal DEI committee

• Creation of an internal Women in Leadership committee

• Conducted an internal survey to better understand our current representation, what we do well and where we can improve to do better moving forward

In all honesty, we’re glad to be putting in the work, but the journey is only beginning.


What would you like the Vinequity community to know about your products and services?

At Sleeman Breweries, we have a range of products in both the beer and RTD categories that fit many different occasions in life and appeal to the multicultural consumer base we’re proud to have here in Canada.

Whether you’re visiting our retail store in Guelph, Ontario or sitting down for a beer at our Taproom in Calgary, Alberta our physical locations across the country are warm and welcoming to all beer lovers, an environment we foster for employees and consumers alike.


Who are some people of colour inside and outside of the beverage industry that inspire you?

As a Japanese owned company, we have quite a few employees here from Japan. I once had the opportunity of mentoring one of those individuals and our conversations shed light on some of the struggles he faced here in Canada as a visibility minority with English as a second language. I always found it inspirational to see how he was able to overcome those challenges in Canada and have success in his career.

Over the years here at Sleeman, I’ve met so many inspirational people ranging from consultants and brewery owners to sales reps and bartenders. I think it takes a lot of courage to look at an industry that is traditionally CIS and white and choose a career in it. It’s making the industry ask hard questions of itself and hopefully creating positive change.


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