June 09, 2022

LAWT News Service


Vintner Iris Rideau, the first Black woman in the United States to establish a winery, will release her memoir, “From WHITE to BLACK: One Life Between Two Worlds,” on June 19, in celebration of Juneteenth.

The memoir tells Rideau’s moving and inspiring rags-to-riches story of accomplishing the nearly impossible by a Black woman born into a Creole family in New Orleans during the Jim Crow era. The book will be released in hardcover, paperback, and e-book formats by 8790 Publishing Company. Kirkus Reviews calls the memoir “an historically rich, exuberant, and vividly detailed portrait of an extraordinary life.” 

Rideau (née Duplantier) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1936. She grew up in the 7th Ward of the city, a Creole section of town, which was considered a relatively safe haven for the family. However, the cruelty Rideau suffered under the harsh rule of Jim Crow caused her to know by the age of ten that she needed to leave the South for a better life in California.

The arc of Rideau’s life is traced in her memoir, highlighting periods of turmoil, including sexual assault and racism. By sixteen, she was a single mother working in a sewing factory while attending night school.

Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of Agape International Spiritual Center, says of her memoir, “An inspiring and oftentimes defiant read…a wonderful and poignant story of triumph and transcendence.”

After a year, Rideau made her way out of that sweatshop and secured her first job working for an insurance agency, a move that helped launch her career. After the Watts Riots in 1967, Iris founded Rideau Insurance Agency to provide insurance to thousands of ineligible homeowners, Black-owned businesses, and non-profit agencies such as the Urban Leagues that “white” insurance companies wouldn’t touch.

In the late 1970s, Rideau founded her second company, a securities firm specializing in pension plans for public employees. Her success caught the eye of the then-mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley. He brought her on to provide casualty insurance to the city’s federal programs and implement the city’s supplemental pension fund managed by the Hartford Investment Group.

From there, she moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming influential in the world of Los Angeles politics and the financial world. “Rideau doesn’t wait for opportunities—she makes her own, whether as a successful entrepreneur, a political change agent, or as a winery owner,” says The Wine Spectator.

Having managed both companies for 30 years and later selling both, Rideau left Los Angeles and moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country where she founded Rideau Winery in 1997. The winery became known for its award-winning Rhone varietal wines. Rideau sold her wines directly from her historic Adobe tasting room and at many memorable Creole-inspired winery events.

Scott Williams, executive producer of “NCIS,” adds, “Iris Duplantier Rideau is not only a modern-day pioneer, groundbreaking businesswoman, and award-winning winery owner, she’s also a brilliant writer to boot. ‘From WHITE to BLACK’ is a beautifully told true story of extraordinary perseverance, limitless vision, and the power of faith in oneself. Ms. Rideau’s illuminating ride through a long-ignored aspect of American history is endlessly fascinating and will leave you deeply inspired.” 

Rideau will appear in the KPBS series, “Fresh Glass,” premiering in September 2022.

Her memoir is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Category: Business