Meet the Winemaker. Most Californians love wine, but few can match the passion of San Francisco native, founder, and creator of P. Harrell Wines - Paula J. Harrell. Paula is a staple in the San Francisco and Oakland communities - having cultivated a formidable reputation as a businesswoman, entrepreneur, and community leader.
She credits her parents - her mother an immigrant from Panama and her father an Oklahoma-born American military veteran - for instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in her and her four siblings as they built a thriving residential care facility business in San Francisco starting in the late 1960s. While pursuing her BA at UCLA, Paula studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and sparked her passion for wine. After graduating UCLA, she returned to San Francisco where she received an MBA in Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship from San Francisco State University and joined her father in running the family business. She also launched what has become a longstanding career in real estate investing and mortgage finance. Paula continues to run the family real estate business today.
In addition to her work in real estate, Paula is a leader in many entertainment and civic endeavors. She hosts several annual events each year - including a holiday party for 300+ guests which has been one of Oakland’s marquee events for nearly 20 years. Paula is the co-founder of the Oakland International Film Festival and currently serves on their board; she was one of the associates responsible for bringing Black Cinema Cafe (a showcase of independent films from the American Black Film Festival) to the Bay Area; and has supported many organizations in their marketing and fundraising efforts. And while pursuing her civic passions, Paula’s interest in wine went from spark to flame. She began an exploration through the wine countries of California - and around the world. She made it her priority to learn everything she could about wine. She even purchased a timeshare in Napa Valley and spent all of her free time visiting wineries, gleaning knowledge, technique, and education from winemakers, taking classes, participating in blending sessions, and fully immersing herself in the culture. Her hobby became her greatest passion and eventually led her to launch her own private label in November 2015.
Paula has grown her portfolio to include three wines, with a fourth and fifth planned for release mid 2021. Her wines are an overall tribute to her family’s legacy: dedication to community, friendship, cultural heritage, and one another. She pays homage to that legacy in naming her wines after locations and family members that hold special meaning to her family’s life and business.
Paula was selected to participate in the pilot for “Wines Best Bottle Competition”, and she and P. Harrell Wines have been featured in a number of publications: 23 Black-Owned Wineries Worth Supporting Right Now; Wedding Wednesday!; A Global Guide to Black-Owned Wine Labels | Wine Enthusiast; Black Vines hosts 9th annual celebration: A Toast to Black Wineries and Diverse Art; Celebrating Black History: Paula Harrell, a trailblazer - to name a few. A sought-after wine educator, Paula has partnered with a number of recognized organizations such as Liberty Mutual, Jack and Jill of America Inc., Mid- Atlantic, Oakland Bay Area Links, Inc., California Institute of Technology, and Indeed to showcase P. Harrell Wines.
“The creation of P. Harrell Wines has emerged from my long standing passion and appreciation for wine, from the smell of freshly picked grapes after a successful harvest to sampling wines in barrel, and ultimately indulging in the enchanting wine culture with others. I love all things wine because it is one of those simple pleasures that seamlessly intertwine people from ALL walks of life, no matter the color, gender, or background, creating genuine friendships & connections.”
- Paula J. Harrell, Founder - P. Harrell Wines