While Blacks are a powerful force in the economic prosperity of the liquor industry, White men represent the overwhelming majority of liquor franchise ownership in the U.S. But, a growing number of Black entrepreneurs are shifting the landscape and carving out their own niche in the industry.

The second annual Black Owned Wine and Spirits Festival is attempting to drive efforts to increase the visibility of these burgeoning manufacturers. Founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Chanel Turner, founder of Fou-Dré Vodka, the expo piques the interest of spirit connoisseurs who are eager to support Black-owned brands. On Sept. 30 from 2-8 p.m., revelers will gather at The Showroom D.C., 1099 14th Street, in the Northwest quadrant of the city for hours of drink sampling, networking and conversation. There are more than 40 participating vendors, including P. Harrell Wines, d’lish dish Catering, Roux Catering Company and Suite Four.

“This year we moved our festival…The Showroom D.C. is one of D.C.’s newest venues and located in the heart of the city. Chic, clean design, large windows letting in plenty of sunlight, rooftop views and more will be the backdrop for this year’s festival,” Turner told the {AFRO}. “This year we can offer larger sample sizes to the attendees as well as attendees have the ability to purchase a product they sample right there on site, which we were unable to do last year. Our wine and spirit vendor list is double what it was last year, which allows the attendees to have a lot more variety to choose from.”

Turner is an industry game-changer and innovator. She is the youngest woman to own her own spirit brand and the first Black woman vodka proprietor. Fou-Dré emerged on the spirits scene in 2009 when Turner, then 25, sought a vodka brand that “you could just drink straight and not be too heavy, no chaser…just neat over ice.” The vodka boasts 100 percent fruit flavors and an amalgam of pomegranate and ginger notes. She says the brand continues to expand its footprint throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Georgia and Singapore.

Just as Turner sought liquor with more savory tastes than traditionally harsh vodkas, she said she believes people of all generations have developed more discerning palates and higher expectations for their drinking experience. Although trends indicate millennials and the 40-and-under generation have a penchant for premium spirits, Turner said she finds more brand allegiance with mature audiences.

“Actually, I’ve noticed just with my brand alone that 35-and-up have more loyalty to a brand than the younger generation,” Turner said. “They look for quality spirits versus what’s popular or mainstream.”

Alice Gaines, 37, agrees that today’s wine and spirit drinkers have more stringent requirements. Liquor preferences are no longer limited to bar fodder, but have transcended into symbols of class and lifestyle.  She recently hosted a wine tasting at her Laurel, Md., home, where a group of 15 20-and 30-somethings gathered on a balmy evening to sip, socialize and enjoy a spirited round of karaoke. Gaines noted her guests’ fondness for the highest quality selections.

“People 40 and under are looking for quality beverages that taste great and relaxes them at the same time. Cost isn’t an issue if those two things are present,” she said.