Feeling “hella thirsty” for a buzzy new adult beverage? Say no more, Fam — Issa Rae is ready to fill your glass. The HOORAE CEO has added another sector to her ever-expanding portfolio of product lines and revenue streams, partnering with E. & J. Gallo Winery to launch a new prosecco brand, Viarae.
Fans of both Rae and her HBO hit “Insecure” might recognize prosecco as both the drink of choice for the actress-creator and her onscreen alter-ego, Issa Dee. According to Wine Enthusiast, her affinity for the beverage was sparked by none other than her friend and frequent collaborator, director-producer Melina Matsoukas, who ordered the Champagne-like varietal during one of their early meet-ups.
“I was like, ‘What’s that?’” Rae recalled. “She said, ‘You’ll see.’”
Now, Rae is an avowed connoisseur, and fans can enjoy her sparkling signature drink for themselves.
“I am thrilled to share my love of Prosecco with everyone through Viarae. It’s carefully crafted, deliciously crisp, and the perfect beverage to celebrate La Dolce Vita,” said Rae in a press release.
According to wine-focused media outlet VinePair, “Vintage-dated Viarae Prosecco D.O.C. is made from 100 percent [Glera] grapes grown by the La Marca cooperative in Treviso, Italy.” As Rae told Wine Enthusiast, her blend is “on the drier side; a bit more elevated in taste.”
“This has more citrus notes; there’s a little bit of green apple in there. It’s a bit on the fruitier but crisp side.”
Wine Enthusiast further notes, “Rae was adamant about making real-deal Prosecco from Italy with 100% Glera grapes.” As she told the outlet, “Because that’s what means the most for me and is authentic to me.” Like its founder, the formulation is also versatile, intended to shine alone, in cocktails, or paired with other liquors.
As for partnering with legacy brand E. & J. Gallo, Rae explained, “I’ve been [crafting] this for three years, working with different companies and trying to find the right match.” That undoubtedly included finding a partner that would help Rae highlight Black women winemakers. Viarae Prosecco’s ‘70s-inspired gold and brown packaging, which instantly evokes iconic Black female film characters like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones, was designed to reflect that affinity and mission, notes Wine Enthusiast.
“With Viarae Prosecco, Rae is helping create representation for herself and the vibrant Black female community in a category where it didn’t previously exist,” the release explains. The label’s splashy design “unapologetically represents the freedom to let loose and be authentic.”
Is this the beginning of a Viarae empire? For now, Rae is focused on her debut varietal, though she teased that a “President Barbie”-appropriate rosé or other spirits might not be far off.
“I think if people f–k with this, then absolutely, I would love to expand!” she told Wine Enthusiast, proclaiming prosecco’s bubbly nature a lifestyle. “I want to tell stories around that lifestyle.”