After walking around their Harlem neighborhood and realizing there wasn’t a place to buy good wine, Pascal and Daneen Lewis came up with a bold plan: to open their own wine shop.

“We’ve lived in the neighborhood for close to 30 years and we never really found a place that we liked buying wine in. We would travel downtown,” Daneen, co-owner of Harlem Wine Gallery, told NowThis News. “Being very active in our community, we were like, ‘Wait, why are we leaving our neighborhood to go buy wine that we want to drink? We should have a shop!’”

Pascal and Daneen sprung into action shortly after that. The couple did not have prior experience in the wine world, but they took classes and attended the Wine Spirits Education Trust to learn everything they could about the industry.

“We kind of naively just jumped into it,” Daneen said. “And now, seven years later, here we are, and we love every second of it.”

Harlem Wine Gallery is so much more than a wine shop. Pascal and Daneen want to engage with the community. According to Sprudge, the wine shop includes a large space in the back, which is often used for tastings and other events. Its calender shows that the gallery has offered events that merge wine with music and culture — and many of those events were free.

“Most people are intimidated [buying wine],” Pascal, co-owner of Harlem Wine Gallery, told NowThis News. “This space gave us an opportunity to have an educational space that would allow us to educate our community members [about wine and wine making].”

What’s really special about Harlem Wine Gallery is its inventory. The shop has the largest selection of Black-owned wine brands and products made by Black winemakers in New York City. It also offers wines produced by women, and according to the website, the shop carries a significant amount of natural wines and wines from New York State.

“I found that there was a lack of representation within the industry,” Pascal said. “As a retailer, I could have a space where these wines could be showcased … actually give them a prominent place within the store. Black brands and Black winemakers need an uplift and we help to provide that uplift.”

Moving forward, the Lewises are focusing on their community and collaborating with other small businesses in Harlem and surrounding neighborhoods. They hope to “give a broader understanding that wine grape growing is agriculture.”

Daneen said that they have so much more to learn and so much more to do.

“It’s just a neverending journey of learning about wine,” she said.