By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
Chanel Turner, a 34-year-old Prince George’s County resident, claims to own one of the best vodkas on shelves today.
“My brand is FOU-DRÉ Vodka,” Turner said with a smile. “Not to take anything away from other vodkas on the market, but it’s one of the best out there,” she told the AFRO at the 3rd Annual Black-Owned Wine and Spirit (BOWS) Festival on September 22.
The event was held in Northeast at Union Market.
Founded in 2009, FOU-DRÉ is a play on the French word for lighting. The bottle is manufactured in France, opaque-purple and is lightning bolt shaped. It is very hard to miss.
Turner continued, “FOU-DRÉ is an 80-proof pomegranate-infused vodka. It has a patented distillation process, we call it a no-hangover vodka. And, it is a vodka you can drink by itself over ice – we call it the over ice experience.”
FOU-DRÉ is sold in more than 40 retailers in the DMV area, Georgia, and overseas. Other Black-owned wine and spirit companies struggle to get on the market.
Turner founded the BOWS Festival to change that.
“I started the festival because I wanted to create a platform for people like myself that are in the wine and spirit industry who get overlooked by the major brands. People don’t know about a lot of the brands out here but they are doing great things. I wanted to create awareness for them,” Turner told the AFRO.
The BOWS Festival is an open expo event featuring everything from craft wines and beer to luxury spirits and specialty foods, accessories and products. Throughout the day, the festival was filled with live music performances, appearances from local radio hosts and personalities, educational demonstrations and shopping.
According to BlackNews.com, more than 1,500 attendees attended in 2017. BOWS Festival spirits vendors sold more than 2,000 bottles in the same year. Turner expected this year to be bigger and better.
When asked how the event has changed since the beginning, Turner mentioned her fellow distillers and cocktail creators, “We’ve grown in terms of vendors. Every year I learn about a new wine or spirit brand that is on the market. They want to participate in the festival. So, every year we bring in new vendors and keep the ones from previous years.”
While Turner joked that she had one of the best vodkas on the market, Saturday’s attendees were met with several other strong competitors. More than 30 vendors from across the country participated. Uncle Nearest’s 1865, a Tennessee whiskey that rivals Jack Daniel’s, Blue Henry Spirits, served best over cotton candy and Den of Thieves, chocolate- and ginger-vanilla-infused whiskeys, were also crowd favorites.