Delta’s refreshed beverage menu spotlights Black-owned and women-owned businesses

September 29, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

Delta Air Lines is upgrading its inflight beverage service, but with a twist that means much more exposure and business for a diverse cross-section of makers of craft beverages across the country.

“We’ve really taken an intentional approach in reintroducing our onboard food and beverage offerings for our customers, and we are bringing service back better than before. As part of this, we’ve developed new specially curated food menus, new beverages, and a refreshed snack lineup,” says Mike Henny, managing director of onboard services operations at Delta Air Lines.

Among the new brands included in the refreshed drink service is Du Nord Social Spirits, the first Black-owned distillery in the United States. Delta will start serving Du Nord’s Foundation Vodka, which pays homage to the distiller’s home base in Minnesota.

“Du Nord’s vodka stood out to us. It’s really smooth and easy to drink, and we knew it was perfect for our onboard offering,” Henny tells Fortune. “We also learned of the great community work Du Nord does, and we knew the partnership would be a great fit. Airline packaging was a new space for Du Nord when we first contacted them. We’ve worked with them for over a year and a half now to get their product onboard.”

‘It was amazing to be with the Du Nord team as their 50-milliliter bottle was put in production for the first time,’ Henny says. ‘It was emotional, they were so proud, and our teams were just ecstatic that they helped bring the partnership to life. Moments like that really make the work meaningful and inspire us to find more suppliers that not only provide us with the best products, but also help us serve products that are made by people who reflect the world we live in.’
Courtesy of Du Nord

Representatives for the airline say the carrier is focused on featuring offerings from diverse suppliers. “We’ve made supplier diversity a priority for many years,” Henny says. “Our robust program includes on-board products like beverages, but it also expands to businesses that supplies things like aircraft and engine parts, technology hardware and software, insurance, and even marketing agency support.”

The airline’s new sparkling wine will come from Une Femme, a 100% women-made sparkling wine producer in California. “We learned of them from working with our hot food partner, Souvla, in San Francisco. Souvla’s CEO Charles Bililies introduced us to Jen Pelka, his wife, who leads Une Femme,” Henny says about partnering with Une Femme. “We love Une Femme’s brand and mission as well, so it was just a natural fit for us.”

For every bottle the company sells, Une Femme donates to a charitable organization with the purpose of improving the lives of women. “The Callie” is the winery’s sparkling rosé made with Napa and Sonoma-grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Mourvedre grapes. Additionally, during the month of October, Delta will donate 20% of all onboard purchases, including beverages, to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Henny underscores that Delta has also been serving wine from Brown Estate, the first and only black-owned estate winery in California’s Napa Valley, since 2019; the carrier serves the winery’s Chaos Theory red blend of blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel as well as the Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc onboard.

‘Our teams—including supply chain, onboard service, catering, and our flight attendants—have been hard at work to ramp up our operation to serve customers their favorite onboard treats,’ Henny says.
Courtesy of Une Femme

Delta’s beverage team also partners with companies to create exclusive items. “These products are really neat and give customers a unique experience while flying,” Henny says.

For example, a few months ago, the carrier launched a new beer from Atlanta-based SweetWater that is formulated specially to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet and is only available on Delta flights—it even has a Delta plane on the can. Also coming up, the airline partnered with Breckenridge Brewery to bring on a seasonal beer; the Colorado brewery took its signature Vanilla Porter beer and modified the recipe to make it into a Cookie Porter beer for Delta in the lead up to the holiday season. And the airline will have an Orange Fashioned cocktail coming onboard from Vermont’s highly-lauded rye whiskey maker WhistlePig that puts a spin on the classic Old Fashioned with notes of fresh cinnamon and citrus.

“Our alcohol, beer, and wine selection is where the Delta teams really get to play and go out to find new and exciting products for our customers,” Henny says. “We want to create ‘aha!’ moments for customers by introducing them to things they would have never thought of or tasted before.”

The full list of new beers, wines, spirits, and seltzers rolling out to flights this fall can be seen below:

  • Du Nord’s Foundation Vodka will be available for sale on all domestic flights starting October. In 2022, Delta will bring on more Du Nord products and plans to launch the spirits internationally.
  • Breckenridge’s beer will be available for sale on all domestic flights from October through the end of 2021.
  • Une Femme’s sparkling rosé will be available for sale on domestic flights throughout the month of October. Delta says it hopes to bring more Une Femme products onboard in 2022.
  • Tip Top’s Negroni will be available for sale on domestic flights throughout the month of October.
  • Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner will be available for sale on domestic flights throughout the month of October.
  • Vizzy Hard Seltzer is now available on all domestic flights.
  • WhistlePig’s cocktail kit will be available for domestic coast-to-coast and international Delta One customers from October through the end of 2021.

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