John June Lewis, Sr. Scholarship Fund
In 1940, John June Lewis, Sr. (1894-1974) became the first African American to own a vineyard and winery, as well as first winery in Virginia. Built by his own hands on land deeded to him by his father and plantation owner, Armistead Burwell, John would produce two varietals, a Lambrusca and Hybrid wine at his Woburn Winery in Clarksville, Virginia. After his passing, his son and namesake, John June “Duckie” Lewis, Jr. would maintain the business just a few years longer.
Presently, there are over 11,000 wineries worldwide. There are just over 60 Black owned wineries worldwide. This is less than .01%. The mission of Urban Connoisseurs is to affect sustainable growth in the Black vintner community by increasing the number of Black Vintners in the US and abroad, create opportunities for the next generation to pursue various careers in the wine industry, and maintain brand and legacy for the Generation after Next.
Never before has a scholarship of this magnitude been created to solely support African Americans pursuing careers in the wine industry. The creation of the John June Lewis Scholarship Fund serves to preserve a name that may be lost over the years, and will provide financial assistance to African American students pursuing careers in the wine industry.
Urban Connoisseurs has partnered with UNCF to maintain the fund. As the nation’s largest and most successful education assistance organization serving minority students, UNCF is dedicated to helping low-income students of color gain access to college and graduate ready to enter a competitive global marketplace and actively participate in civil society. Since its founding in 1944, UNCF has raised more than $4.3 billion to help more than 425,000 students earn college degrees—a total that grows by 9,500 students every year. With the exception of the federal government, UNCF has distributed more funds to help students of color attend post-secondary institutions than any other entity.
The partnership will allow us to gain access to more students, as well as create programs where students will have opportunities to attend seminars focused on wine education, internships at Black owned wineries, and additional STEM funding to students majoring in the sciences (Viticulture and Enology).