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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Mermosa founder Desiree Noisette makes wine – and history

A woman with lavender hair holds up a white and gold wine bottle.
The Zest Podcast
Mermosa’s mermaid logo was inspired by Celestine Noisette, Desiree Noisette's ancestor and “our family’s first mermaid."

Desiree Noisette is the founder, president and “head mermaid” of Mermosa Wines, making her Florida’s first Black female winemaker.

It’s Women’s History Month, and this week on The Zest, we’re introducing you to a St. Petersburg woman who is making history right here in the Sunshine State.

Desiree Noisette is the founder, president and “head mermaid” of Mermosa Wines, making her Florida’s first Black female winemaker.

“I didn’t grow up in this industry,” the 39-year-old says. “My parents weren’t wine drinkers.”

So how did she get here? Desiree’s story is nearly as fascinating as that of the ancestor who inspired her.

Tired of her career in construction law, in 2012 Desiree opened Cerulean Blu Swim & Resort Wear Boutique in downtown St. Pete. Tourists would come into the shop—often two or three generations of women from the same family—to try on swimwear.

“Swimsuit shopping is terrible, generally. And I wanted to make it a fun experience,” Desiree recalls. “So popping bottles was this way of starting a party and bringing people together.”

When the alcohol flowed, so did the stories—family tales told by women of all ages, from all over the world.

One thing would make it even better, Desiree thought. Mimosas, ready to drink. No mixing or mess required.

And that’s how Mermosa was born. Desiree did some research and found a mentor in winemaker Joe Dobbes of Dobbes Family Estate in Oregon, where Mermosa products are produced.

“This is a very relationship-based industry,” Desiree says, noting African-Americans have historically been excluded from the beverage industry.

Today, the Mermosa product line includes ready-to-drink mimosas and other sparkling wines. The brand is sold in 16 states, available in stores like Walmart, Target, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Total Wine and others.

Mermosa’s mermaid logo was inspired by Celestine Noisette, Desiree’s ancestor and “our family’s first mermaid,” according to the Mermosa website.

In the late 1700s, Celestine, a Black Haitian woman, married Philippe Noisette, a white French gardener. The couple moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1794. Their love story, combined with Celestine’s fighting spirit, helped secure freedom for Celestine and their children in the antebellum South. The Noisette family spirit is infused into every Mermosa beverage, including the Celestine Rosé named in her honor.

“I feel like it’s a true celebration of Celestine,” Desiree says. “That’s the thing about wine—it’s really more about the story and what you’re feeling when you’re drinking it.”

Celestine’s legacy motivates Desiree, especially when she faces challenges of being a young, Black female in the white male-dominated wine industry.

“I channel her a lot,” Desiree says. “Whenever I have a big challenge, I’m like, ‘Well, shoot. She broke out of slavery, so I can make this happen. I can do this.”

"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.
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