Not Your Average Winemaker

April 12, 2016 (Updated January 17, 2019)
Bertony Faustin wears overalls and a collared shirt as he smiles next to two bottles of wine he made.
Bertony Faustin is the proprietor and winemaker of Abbey Creek Vineyard — and he’s breaking stereotypes with each bottle. (Photo credit: Diego G. Diaz)
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It’s not every day that you visit a tasting room that plays hip hop, serves Brazilian hot sauces and features wines with names like “Sunshine,” “Diva” and “Big Sexy.” But Abbey Creek Vineyard is different from most.

Bertony Faustin is the proprietor and winemaker here — and he’s breaking stereotypes with each bottle. Faustin is the first recorded black winemaker in Oregon and has garnered attention around the globe for his quest to grow diversity in winemaking.

Faustin is featured in “Red, White and Black,” an independent documentary about minority winemakers in Oregon. Released in summer 2017, the film is currently being screened in select locations across the state; watch for dates posted on their Facebook page.

Other regular events at “The Crick” — Faustin’s nickname for the winery — include tasting events, art nights and their craveworthy chicken and waffle brunches — complete with maple bourbon syrup made from bourbon at Bull Run Distillery.  

Faustin loves drawing in visitors any way he can, because it all comes down to his passion for the craft. By sharing his and other minority winemakers’ stories through film, he hopes both to inspire and empower others to follow in their footsteps — and shake up the image of Oregon wine for locals and visitors alike. “I want to start targeting a whole other demographic [than most Oregon wineries],” he says.

 

 

Wines at Abbey Creek Vineyard have unique names like “Sunshine,” “Diva” and “Big Sexy.” (Photo credit: Jennifer Anderson)
Abbey Creek wines are paired with chili pepper sauces that Faustin imports from Brazil. (Photo credit: Jennifer Anderson)

A former anesthesiologist assistant, Faustin came into the wine industry in 2007 after his father died and he started reexamining his life and what he wanted to do with it.

Faustin thought of the 50-acre property with 10 acres of vineyards off Northwest Germantown Road that his in-laws kept. They didn’t make wine, they just sold their fruit. The land was calling.

So Faustin and his wife, Jennifer, went all in, starting a family about the same time Faustin took winemaking classes and found a mentor. In 2008 he and his wife started producing wines with their pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and gewurztraminer grapes and, more recently, gamay noir and albarino.

The wines pair with the line of De Cabron chili pepper sauces he imports from Brazil, designed to complement and balance the spicy-sweet-smoky mouth feel of the wine.

 

Faustin isn’t the only minority winemaker in Oregon looking to push boundaries in the industry. He’s working with four other local winemakers to get the diversity message out through their personal stories, which they share in the documentary.

They include Jarod Sleet of ROCO Winery in Newberg, a young, gay black man from Kentucky who moved here to get into the industry. Faustin donated his first two tons of fruit to Sleet to produce his first two barrels of rose and then pinot noir. Another is Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines in McMinnville, a lesbian winemaker who says she still gets asked if her non-existent husband is the winemaker. Then Andre Mack of Mouton Noir Wines in McMinnville is a New York City-based sommelier who comes to Oregon each year to source his grapes for his label, which he sells internationally.

A fifth featured winemaker, Jesus Guillén of Guillén Family Wines and White Rose Estate Winery and Vineyard — known as one of the few Latino head winemakers in the state — tragically died of cancer at age 37 in late 2018, after the film’s release. A GoFundMe campaign is raising funds to support his young family.  

Faustin is grateful to be doing the work he loves, and to be blazing a trail for others to follow. “It wasn’t about the odds of being successful in the industry, it was just my hustle,” he says. “I can, so I will.”

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters and other online content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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