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Maven to Know: Nicole Kearney

Meet the Maven who turned a grad school love of wine and community into a full-blown career.
Maven to Know Nicole Kearney graphic on the left with an image of Nicole Kearney on the right

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Nicole Kearney is a writer turned boutique winery owner based in Indianapolis. While earning her master’s degree in dramatic writing, Kearney often found herself sipping wine with her peers, sharing about their craft and lives. Those small moments ended up impacting her greatly, so much so she launched her own wine company, Sip & Share Wines

“I started the company in 2016 as a way to bring other Black winemakers into people’s homes,” Kearney says. “So, we did a lot of home tastings and small events. We pivoted to become a winery in 2018, and we released our Seven World Wine collection in 2019.”  

Today, Kearney uses her wine as a way to be inclusive toward Black wine connoisseurs who have been excluded from the industry. We squeezed some time on Kearney’s schedule to talk about what her day looks like as a wine owner, the advice she’d give her younger self, and what she most likes to pair her wine with. 

Maven superpower: Ordering wine for the group and being able to pair with people’s palettes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Walk us through your day as the owner of Sip & Share Wines. 

I start my day with meditation and quiet. I scan emails and check in with my team to see what they need from me that day. I sit down and respond to emails and call businesses to see about them carrying Sip & Share Wines. I go to the winery and taste wine and help anywhere I’m needed. I wrap up the day talking to my partner-in-wine/life partner, David. We review the day and plan for the next. 

Expand on the mission behind your boutique winery. 

Sip & Share Wines is a vegan boutique winery passionate about creating community with vegan wine for wine lovers overlooked and underrepresented by the wine industry. We focus on Black and brown wine lovers who have been excluded by the industry, but we welcome everyone to the table. 

Did you consider yourself a wine snob before this?

Nope. I’ve always thought wine was super fun, and I think people do believe wine is a very snobbish thing that is kind of hard to understand. 

What do you usually pair your wine with?

I like our gratitude red blend with peanut butter and jelly. There is a PB & J restaurant in Indianapolis, and they make amazing PB & J sandwiches. So, I always go over there to grab one. 

What’s your favorite winery?

Oliver Winery, like most people. They have a more diverse offering of wines.

What undertones do you look for in a wine?

When I am drinking champagne, I’m going to be looking for a little bit of that yeasty-ness. If I’m drinking a good dry red, then I want it to be really smooth, not have a lot of tannic bite to it. And if I’m doing a white, usually that bright acidicness, really bright, fruity, florally. 

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Who is somebody that you look up to as you’re starting your business? 

Locally, Chef Oya with The Trap. We talk a lot and I kind of look at how she is doing. What moves is she making? And yea, that would be my local eyes being able to say, “Oh, this is how I should look into doing this. 

What have you learned about owning a business for three years?

We learned to be nimble and to be prepared to change up everything you’ve had on your plan. But, when you have that plan as your guide, for us we were able to start making our wine as a sampler set that we were able to send out to people that they could taste. We were able to do virtual wine tastings because we already had the product ready for our restaurants and bars when all of that shutdown. And then leaning on your team and building a team that can help you move through things. We have a small team, it’s just three of us that work full-time. And we have a part-time person. And it’s family and friends that help out. So, it’s being able to ask for help.  

What’s your go-to drink if you’re not having wine?

Tequila sunrise, but I like gold tequila with a splash of cranberry juice and pineapple juice. That’s what I’m going to drink if the wine menu is bad and they don’t have a decent beer. 

Tell us about the most rewarding part of your job. 

Creating community with wine for Black and brown wine lovers, while welcoming all.

Describe one of your favorite Christmas traditions. 

With my children, usually, we get up and have brunch. My children are much older now, they’re both college graduates. Typically, we get together and just share a meal and watch a movie. 

If you were on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would they be?

Books, music, and champagne.

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