ErmaRose Winery, First Black-Owned Winery in Houston
ErmaRose Winery is an award-winning family-owned and operated winery in Katy, Texas. Jennifer Prothow, a proud veteran, had a vision to craft her unique wine recipes and start her own winery in 2014. Her parents, Stephen and Andrea Prothow, supported her every step of the way. Jennifer and her mother, Andrea, are the winery’s owners; Jennifer’s father, Stephen, passed away in 2018.
The first batch of ErmaRose wine was bottled in 2016. The winery’s production facility was acquired in 2018 in Katy, Texas and officially opened its doors on March 1, 2019. The winery focuses on making wines from a variety of fresh frozen fruit, free of concentrates and low in sulfites.
The current signature flavors are Banana, Peach, Mango, Blueberry, Blackberry and Cranberry. To date, ErmaRose Winery has sold nearly 1,000 cases of wine.
ErmaRose Winery is named after Erma Jewel Hobley and Rosa Jones Prothow. Erma and Rosa are Jennifer’s grandmothers. Both grandmothers have profoundly influenced her life and naming the company after them seemed like the best way to honor them both.
We got to chat with Andrea and Jennifer more about their business, what keeps them inspired, and future plans for their business. Read our full interview below and be sure to go out and support this awesome local business that we are so lucky to have right here in our backyard!
Start off by telling us who you are and what your business is.
We are a mother/daughter ownership team and we own a fruit winery in Katy, TX.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
We are originally from Houston, TX but we now live in Wallis, TX since 1999. We chose Katy for the business location in August of 2018.
What did you do before opening your business?
Andrea retired from corporate America in 2013 after thirty-four years and Jennifer is a disabled Marine veteran.
When did you launch your business and what was the inspiration behind it?
We launched the business on March 1, 2019. Jennifer started making at home for therapeutic reasons about five years ago. She gave the wine away to family and friends. Her father, Stephen Prothow, encouraged her to start a small business making wine.
Have you always had a heart for entrepreneurship?
Jennifer has definitely always had a mind for entrepreneurship. She was always findings ways to make money as a child and continued to do so as she grew up.
We’re giant advocates for supporting local! Tell us how the community has gotten you where you are now.
The Katy community has been very supportive from the early beginning. They have helped us grow by referring their friends and family to our winery. They have also introduced us to networking organizations which helped us gain more exposure. Many of them have become our friends.
Can you tell us the meaning behind the winery name?
ErmaRose is named for Jennifer’s two grandmothers, Erma Phlegm Hobley (Andrea’s mother) and Rose Jones Prothow. They were very influential in her early years.
Tell us about some of your wines, some of your favorites?
We have eleven regular fruit wines and one premium wine. Cranberry was an early favorite of the original eight. Royal Dragonfly and Masked Gorilla are currently our most popular. They are both fruit blends. We released two new wines last summer, Green Apple and Strawberry. Our one premium wine is called 1958 in honor of Stephen Prothow, representing his birth year. It is a bourbon barrel aged blackberry. It is currently only released twice a year, in April and August.
Future plans and dreams for your business?
Our future plans are to be in more stores across the Houston are and expand across the country. We also want to make sure our customers have the best on site experience when they visit our winery.
Best advice for anyone wanting to open their own business?
Do as much research as possible, seek advice from experts or other business owners. You should expect to work hard every day. Know that you will have obstacles to overcome.
Favorite thing about being a business owner? Hardest thing?
Our favorite thing to do is spending time talking to our customers and listening to their feedback. The hardest is responding to issues created by the pandemic.
You are a proud black owned local business. Tell us what this means to you.
I’m proud to be a successful black business owner who can be an encouragement to other minorities. Anyone can be successful with hard work and determination.
What’s one thing you’d like to go back and tell the you that launched into entrepreneurship?
Ignore the negativity and focus on the positive.
When things get hard, what’s one thing you tell yourself to keep going?
The end result will be worth it and Stephen would be proud.
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