ATLANTA — Family and community lie at the heart of what George Brown does. From washing dishes at the age of 15 to owning a wine company, it all comes back to education and giving back to the community.
Brown grew up in South Philadelphia, where he said he learned the importance of mentorship. After working in the hospitality industry for decades, he shifted his focus and opened a wine company in 2013. Alexis George Wine Cellars is named after Brown's two children and features silhouettes of his kids' profiles as the logo.
"It’s about passing on to our next generation, so that’s where the design and name came from on this," Brown said. "We’re a generation or two removed from the 60’s and the struggles that happened then. That’s not that far away. So while we celebrate black history, the celebration for me is how do I support and advance that cause?”
Brown has the wine made in California and rolls them out through online sales. Brown also distributes the wine nationally in retailers like Sam's Club, Target and Trader Joe's. He expects to produce 60-thousand cases of wine this year. Brown also said he would roll out a new wine brand in October.
Brown believes in a strong foundation of education. He said for each case of wine sold, up to $3 goes back to scholarships and mentoring efforts.
"Education provides that baseline, that platform for people to grow and have the audacity and the belief that they can become millionaires and billionaires,” Brown said. "We all need a mentor in our careers and personal lives. That helps us to be guided down the right path in a lot of situations and scenarios.”
So far, Brown said he has donated over $40,000 dollars to underprivileged kids. On Friday, he presented checks to the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Emerging 100.
"Our motto is ‘what they see is what they’ll be,’" Louis Negron, executive director of 100 Black Men of Atlanta said. "When they see George being an entrepreneur, and George being the man he is and having that close proximity to someone like that, it inspires a young person.”
Brown also plays a strong role in boosting engagement at the ballot box, holding the belief that the community should hold their elected officials accountable.
"Politics is something happening every day, not every four years," Brown said. "If we do it collectively and understand we have more in common than what divides us, that’s where a close-knit community continues to grow.”
For Brown, pouring wine has a bigger purpose. He said he would tell his younger self to do his homework, listen to mentors and be courageous.