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New York City is arguably one of the toughest places in the world to open a brick-and-mortar business, let alone during the late-stage pandemic era with both commercial and residential rent prices skyrocketing despite tenants fighting tooth-and-nail. Right now, success stories in the cities can seem few and far between—but they taste that much sweeter when they do happen.

On June 28th, wine entrepreneur and Brooklyn native Marvina Robinson celebrated a major milestone for B. Stuyvesant—the first Brooklyn-based, Black-owned Champagne company—with the opening of her new tasting room in the heart of the borough’s historic Navy Yard. The brand, which Robinson launched in February 2020 after extensive research and tasting trips to France, endured countless challenges in the face of COVID-19. Ultimately, she was forced to relocate the business in the wake of the real estate market’s surge in prices, which (perhaps serendipitously) brought B. Stuyvesant to its current location. “The Navy Yard chose me,” Robinson shares. (A trip to the area’s grocery store inspired her to put in an inquiry on a listing, and, over the following days, things came together much more quickly than she’d anticipated.)

B Stuyvesant Champagne
Courtesy of B. Stuyvesant Champagne

Housed inside one of the neighborhood’s industrial warehouse buildings, the chic open-concept space is a fitting juxtaposition of fine bubbles and city grit that could also mirror Robinson’s own journey into the wine scene. The energetic entrepreneur, who holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Norfolk State University and a Master’s degree in statistics from Columbia, spent years working in finance before a company downsize inspired her to pivot to a career in a totally different industry, inspired by a longtime affinity for drinking bubbles in her hometown.

Today, B. Stuyvesant’s core three cuvées—a classic brut Reserve, a traditional-blend rosé Champagne, and (our personal favorite) a Grand Reserve—are quickly gaining recognition in their new pied-à-terre, thousands of miles away from their somewhat buttoned-up home region. Also lining the shelves (and available online) are several limited-edition releases.

 A big part of Robinson’s vision with the space is to make the effervescent drink more approachable and fun (see that expertise on full display as she shows how to saber Champagne alongside fellow New Yorkers the Wine Migos). While sabrage likely won’t be one of the activities on offer inside the newly-renovated tasting room, it’s that joie de vivre and ease that defines the brand—and, not to worry, there will be plenty of other ways to get acquainted with the Champagnes. 

Currently, Robinson is starting to import grower Champagnes not yet available stateside, which she plans to incorporate into the tasting menu as a means of exposing visitors to the region’s diversity. “Every time I go to Champagne, I find a new grower champagne that is divine, and I want to bring more awareness to these brands,” she shares. In addition to the tastings, which are offered on an individual basis and in a class format, “We are beginning to host curated dinners—it is an amazing experience!” she tells us. 

Economic obstacles aside, Robinson is poised to become a source of inspiration for other budding entrepreneurs in the wine business—especially those who want to challenge industry norms. Her words of advice? “Don’t try and fit in—make your own waves to find your niche. Stick to your goals and visions and leave the fears behind.”

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