Rada Griffin juggles working as a senior software engineer and subject matter expert for NASA, a private chef, and vintner — designating her Alabama’s first certified Black female winemaker. She’s also working on her wine while helping the agency land the first woman on the moon by 2024.
The Huntsville-based winemaker began researching the skill before taking online courses at Cornell in 2019, which eventually led her to launch Anissa Wakefield Wines. After finishing a Wine Essentials course taught by Cheryl Stanley (a Nolan School senior lecturer), Griffin completed Stanley’s certificate program. This program focused on California, Pacific Northwest, and New York wines.
However, Griffin’s journey to the wine world wasn’t straightforward. In. 2019, the smoke from California wildfires damaged her grapes and her progress, causing her to start from scratch. As time progressed, the winemaker started noticing improvement in her grapes, resuming the production of her wine. And now, the NASA engineer is blending her wine. Packing and bottling are next to come pretty soon.
“Wine to me is food,” Griffin told The Cornell Chronicle. “The same way you view food when a chef puts a plat in front of you, and it’s beautiful, and you can’t wait to taste it, that’s the same way I think about wine. So I just wanted to do more.” She also hosts wine and food pairings on the weekends.
The brilliant woman’s love for wine caused her to launch The Black Cuvee, a local wine club in Alabama for wine fanatics. But she states that getting accepted into the wine industry isn’t easy since it isn’t very inclusive to Blacks, especially in Alabama. Yet she’s hoping her self-journey makes a huge difference.
“We’re trying to catch up with being included in the wine industry,” Griffin said. “There’s a movement happening with Black people getting into the wine industry. You see it with reading and athletes alike. I’m hoping to do my part with bringing that forward. ”
When asked about her ultimate goal with her wine, Griffins responded by saying she wants to see her wine brand on airline alcohol pamphlets.