Nasa Engineer Becomes Alabama’s First Black Winemaker

A Black woman is reinventing the term “you can do it all” by launching a career that has shattered barriers at NASA and a thriving history-making wine industry.

Rada Griffin spends her days working as a NASA software engineer. She’s involved in a secret project that aims to allow a woman to walk on the moon in 2024. In addition, Griffin founded a wine business called Anissa Wakefield Wines. They made history by being Alabama’s first accredited Black winemaker.

“It’s a big responsibility for us to ensure everything goes perfectly,” Griffin explained to The Cornell Chronicle of her involvement with the space institute. “Whenever I can find the time, I do my thing with wine.”

Griffin -who has also been a chef for personal chefs has taken her “obsession” with wine to the next level by taking Cornell’s Wine Essential course led by Cheryl Stanley.

“Wine to me is food. The same way you view food when a chef puts a plate 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,” Griffin explained. “So I was just looking to go further.

After completing the course successfully, Griffin launched Anissa Wakefield Wines in the year 2019, making history in the state of Georgia. The engineer is currently traveling from time to time to Napa Valley, California, to inspect her special-grown wine grapes in their first winery. She also launched the Black Cuvee to other wine enthusiasts in Alabama.

Griffin hopes to one day be able to get her wine onto airline flights and expand her business beyond Alabama.

The Fine Dining Lover. Manuel Choqque grew up in the mountains of the Andes region of Peru as the child of farmers who cultivate potatoes. He stayed with the family’s business and has now produced 90 varieties of potatoes since the year 2014. But it’s the oca, one of the more than 900 Peruvian varieties that Choqque uses to make his wines (via Fine Dining Lovers). Oca’s high sugar content — which, if properly cultivated, produces an 11% to 12 percent ABV wine – led Choqque to transform the substance into alcohol. According to Parade, Oca is often described as “the lost crop of the Incas.”

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