Jennifer Prothow and her mother, Andrea Prothow, are the owners of ErmaRose Winery located at 3130 Katy Hockley Cut Off Road on the edge of downtown Katy that first opened in May 2019. With …
Jennifer Prothow and her mother, Andrea Prothow, are the owners of ErmaRose Winery located at 3130 Katy Hockley Cut Off Road on the edge of downtown Katy that first opened in May 2019. With innovative takes on wine, they work to stand out amongst other fruit wineries with unique flavors created from frozen fruits aside from grapes. The business started as a hobby, Jennifer said, but grew with the love and support of her father.
“I tried cake making and I was really, really bad at that. I tried photography… everything was on (digital single-lens reflex cameras) and it wasn’t the same (as film). So, then I started making wine at home and with the encouragement of my dad,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer first began by giving neighbors samples of her new wines.
“My mom’s friends, my neighbors – people started asking me for my wine because I would give it out (and say) ‘Hey, let me know what you think. I tried a new one,’” Jennifer said.
Of course, the creation of the business didn’t come without its challenges. Especially when Jennifer’s father passed away.
“The biggest challenge was to keep pushing on after I lost my dad,” Jennifer said. “He was supposed to be a big part of this.”
They would go to business classes together, she said, and he would try her new wines or call her to talk about plans for the winery. They even brainstormed the name for the business together.
“He just kept saying, ‘Let’s make it Prothow Wines,” Jennifer said.
They eventually came to the name ErmaRose by combining Jennifer’s grandmothers’ names: Erma and Rosa. They had always played an essential role in her life, she said.
“My grandmas mean a lot to me. So, I thought it would be a really cool way to honor them by naming my business after them,” Jennifer said.
The winery began to suffer though with the emergence of COVID-19, Jennifer said. She wasn’t even sure if ErmaRose would make it.
“I mean for a while we were doing drive thru only, and for two weeks … it was really scary. I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to have a winery,” Jennifer said.
They managed to keep the business going and worked to implement hygiene guidelines to protect customers’ health, Jennifer said.
“We check temperatures with all our employees. Our tables are six foot apart and we’ve closed down the inside of the winery. We sanitize each table and chair after use. All my employees are wearing masks. We’ve gone above and beyond,” Jennifer said.
The winery is continuing to run with new wines coming out and Jennifer’s hopes for the future of ErmaRose Winery.
“I think my wine is more of a festive, enjoyable wine like something you can drink while watching an Astros game,” Jennifer said. “I want to see us in stores and in other restaurants.”
Expansion is not the only thing on Jennifer’s mind for ErmaRose’s future. She also hopes, as a black owned business, she can inspire other black entrepreneurs as her winery grows.
“I pride myself in being a black owned business,” she said. “The only way we can change things is putting money into black neighborhoods and creating black role models. And I hate to say that I’m a role model … but if I can inspire the generation behind me, I’m fine with it.”
Despite the challenges the winery has faced, Jennifer still believes it’s growing and hopes to make a difference in the world.
“I just want to be successful so I can inspire those behind me,” she said.