We realized that wine brought people together and enhanced their experiences. We wanted to do that for people.
– The Stephens
In 2014, Carissa and Kenneth Stephens decided to “splurge” and buy a nice bottle of wine. After speaking with a sommelier, they opted for a Pinotage as it was vinted and imported by companies owned by people of color. They found this interesting as they had not heard of minority-owned wine brands. After tasting the wine, the two were smitten. They began expanding their palates and deepening their passion for wine.
A year later, they traveled to Italy, one of their favorite wine regions, and had the pleasure of pairing great Italian food with excellent Italian wine, including some of the best Barolo and Chianti Classico that they’d ever tasted. Sipping glasses of fruit-forward Chianti Classico while being enchanted by the magic of the Venetian atmosphere and the beauty of the Tuscan landscape created an experience so sublime that it resonated within their spirits. These unforgettable experiences deepened their passion for wine and piqued their interest in the wine industry.
In 2017, they were approached by an entrepreneur about an opportunity to be part owners in a luxury wine club that was sponsored by an iconic media brand. Despite being extremely excited to be involved in the launch of a business in the wine industry, putting up their capital, and publicly promoting the brand, they found themselves disappointed in the quality of the wine as well as the club’s overall operations. They gave up their interest in the company and nearly decided to forgo the wine industry altogether.
However, a little over a year later, the two decided to pull away from their personal entrepreneurial ventures to work together and develop their own wine brand. They knew that they wanted to create high-quality wine and combine it with memorable experiences. If they could create wines and experiences that helped give others that feeling that they experienced in Italy, they knew the company would be a success.
After selecting the varietals, vineyards, and consulting winemaker they decided on the name Pur Noire to pay homage to Carissa’s Creole French roots (Carissa also being a Level 2 Certified Sommelier with Merit from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust – Global) they began producing The Pur Collection. The collection would feature a complex Petite Sirah based blend, Pinot Gris & Sauv Blanc blend, and Tempranillo Rosé. They planned to release their first vintage of the Pur Collection on March 21, 2020, at a grand wine release soirée for 150 guests that had completely sold out by March 1, 2020.
Unfortunately, by March 16, 2020, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, both the CDC and former president issued guidelines limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. Also, many local government officials issued stay at home orders. It appeared that once again, the Stephens’ wine venture would be short-lived.
After much debate and careful consideration, they decided to launch the brand despite the global pandemic. They pivoted from an in-person wine release soirée to a virtual launch event and experienced great success! They nearly sold out of their proprietary Red Blend in their first 90 days of operation.
Although the pandemic did not initially allow them to create the kind of experiences they originally envisioned, the quality of the wine was praised by customers and industry professionals.
In November of 2021, they opened the city of Houston’s first Black-owned winery and tasting room to raving reviews and major press. Since then, Pur Noire has been highlighted by ESSENCE, Good Morning America, Yahoo, Eater, the Houston Chronicle, Houstonia Magazine, Travel Noire and more. The portfolio has grown from 3 wines to 9 wines and the wines have won numerous gold medals in International wine competitions and garnered 90+ point scores. In 2022, Pur Noire received the Innovator of the Year/ Who Got Next Award from HUE Society.
With persistence, and a commitment to quality and excellence, the Pur Noire brand has grown sustainably and continues to reach new heights with each new season. Pur Noire is proud to present the City of Houston’s first Black-Owned winery & tasting room. A s a direct-to-consumer winery, Pur Noire ships their beautiful wines to customers in 42 states across the country. “It is our pleasure to provide our customers with award-winning wines and unforgettable experiences.” Enjoy Pur Noire today!
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