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As the owner, operator & resident sommelier at Uncorked Raleigh, Chala Boya knows more wine than most and her wine bar is here to serve all palettes.

The Black Wall Street Times visited Uncorked to talk all things wine

Chala was born and raised in a small town outside of Elizabeth City called Woodville, North Carolina. Growing up in a family farming community, Chala’s exposure to the wine industry started through terroir.

Photo Courtesy: Zeke Walker. The Black Wall Street Times.

Chala credits much of her ambition and inspiration to her grandmother, Mary Frances Perry James.

Her grandmother taught her the value of a hard day’s work, even paying Chala for her labor around the home and farm. “She wanted us to know our time was valuable, I always remembered that,” she said.

A mother of 19, Mary was an agricultural crew leader for 45 years and a business owner. Chala recalls her grandmother always “toting a shotgun, a prayer cloth, and a fishing rod”. She remains Chala’s example of work ethic and determination.

In 2007, Chala would begin working in hospitality and it was at that defining moment she discovered a deep curiosity and passion for wine.

She recalled giving a wine tasting once and wanting to be over-prepared for the occasion years ago. “I would figure out what I was going to taste before the tasting and take notes and memorize its different characteristics,” she said. While some might shun such meticulous attention to detail, her efforts soon paid off.

After interacting with someone she assumed was an everyday customer, “come to find out the guy I was serving wine to was the owner of the company I was working for.” She furthered, “I told him, ‘you should give me a better job’ and he did. We met the following Monday.”

After several successful roles in the hospitality industry, Chala pursued her CMS & WSET and in 2016, she received her sommelier certification with distinction.

Though wine can be appreciated by all, Chala says the industry is not reflective of its consumers.

“The Black dollar is 35 percent of the wine industry but we’re at 1 percent ownership,” says the Uncorked Raleigh owner.

Photo Courtesy: Zeke Walker. The Black Wall Street Times.

As the first Black female sommelier in North Carolina, she aims to demystify the aura of her industry. Chala explained, “The pretentious nature of wine turns people off. People try to associate wine with class and dignity but once you travel to countries known for wine, you see it’s not a class thing, it just comes with dinner.”

She continued, “I’m not saying you have to spend $30 or $40 in a bottle of wine but you have to care about what you’re putting in your body. We struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure and the people selling us those products don’t care.”

When she’s not working, Chala loves to spend time with her family, her fur-baby Madison and expanding her knowledge of wine.

After studying under esteemed sommelier Henk Schuitemaker at Angus Barn and working alongside Jerome Chery as an Assistant Winemaker at Fog Crest Vineyards in Napa Valley, Chala says her experiences in producing and studying wine has been immeasurably valuable.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my adult life. It was so validating,” said Chala.

As one part of a two-person team, Boya consistently drove from Napa to Sebastopol, California to firsthand produce wine from grape to bottle.

“Making wine is very labor intensive.” Chala added, “I was black and blue all over my body. I look back on it now and I was smiling in every picture so I must’ve been doing something right.”

Photo Courtesy: Zeke Walker. The Black Wall Street Times.

You can visit Uncorked Raleigh at 10511 Shadowlawn Dr. #111 Raleigh, NC 27614 and follow them on Instagram.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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