The Champagne industry has not always been associated with Blackness, but Marvina Robinson proves that mentality is limited. According to Robb Report, Robinson is the first Black American woman to own her own Champagne brand, B. Stuyvesant Champagne.
Robinson told the Robb Report that her love for Champagne sprouted in her college days, while she was sipping on the luxury liquid with friends during school breaks. Later, when she was a young woman working in finance, she turned to the drink at business dinners as a means to avoid alcohol that would get her drunker faster. Discovering an attraction to vintage bottles, grower Champagne and grand and premier crus, Robinson often chose to sip on Canard-Duchêne, Louis Roederer, Gosset and Marc Hébrart.
“I’m in love with Billecart-Salmon,” she told Robb Report.
Robinson starting thinking about getting into the Champagne industry in 2014. At the time, she thought it would be a hobby. It didn’t take long for her to start flying to France every weekend to learn about the art of making the beverage.
“I used to leave my job on Friday afternoon, catch that 6:30 p.m. flight from JFK, get to France on Saturday morning, check into my hotel, shower, change, run to get the train to get me out to Champagne, and do what I had to do,” she said. “I would leave a suit at the gym, come back on Monday morning, shower, and go to work dead to the world.”
By the time Robinson decided to get more involved in the Champagne industry stateside, she was no stranger to entrepreneurship. She’d previously founded both a cycling studio and a coffee bar, both of which are now defunct. Her plan was to import a few small brands and open a Champagne bar in Brooklyn, but timing was not on her side. The pandemic halted her plans to open a new lounge, and this forced her to pivot. She then decided to make her own Champagne in 2020.
Robinson originally planned to call her brand Stuyvesant Champagne, but she found securing a label difficult.
“The Champagne committee rejected the name Stuyvesant several times because it’s a cigarette company in France,” she said.
To receive approval, Robinson adding a B, for her Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, to the name. And B. Stuyvesant Champagne was born.
The brand’s name means a lot to Robinson.
“The Stuyvesant name means a lot to me because I grew up on Stuyvesant Avenue,” she explained. “My school bus picked me up on Decatur and Stuyvesant. When I went to high school, it was at Boys & Girls High School at Fulton and Stuyvesant. My first full-time job, at Morgan Stanley, I remember walking up Stuyvesant Avenue in heels. Never again — but that’s how it all started. That’s why I wanted to make sure I named the brand Stuyvesant, because it’s a reflection of who I am and where I’m from.”
B. Stuyvesant Champagne has grown over the last few years. Now, the brand manufactures about 20,000 bottles per year, which is the same as many small family wineries in Europe and the U.S., according to Robb Report. Her company makes brut, réserve, rosé, and demi-sec Champagne, and bottles will cost you between $59 and $99.
In her youth, Robinson craved “a big title” and traditional career, but B. Stuyvesant Champagne has showed her how gratifying “turning nothing into something and watching it evolve” can be.