Tiquette Bramlett can remember the wine that brought her to Oregon because, as she says, she could hear it. It was a white pinot noir from Anne Amie Vineyards, with an alluring midpalate and a long, creamy finish. At the first sip, Bramlett heard a mezzo soprano come to life in her head. “She crawled up the scale and hit this high note that just resonated,” she recalls. “It was bold and beautiful.”
Bold and beautiful may also describe the impact Bramlett has had on the Oregon wine industry in the years since that moment. That encounter with wine was profound enough to compel the former vocalist — who once sang at the Sydney Opera House — to move to the Willamette Valley and dive headfirst into the craft of winemaking. Nearly a decade later, she’s become the first Black woman in the country to lead a winery and an established workforce with a fiery dedication for growing diversity in its ranks. In March 2023, USA Today named her one of the publication’s Women of the Year.
Bramlett left her post as president of Compris Vineyards in January 2023 to launch her own Willamette Valley wine, which debuts in spring 2024. The work of the nonprofit she founded in 2020, Our Legacy Harvested, also has her excited. The women-led organization offers four-month internships as part of a program that helps students from diverse backgrounds explore the enormous opportunities that await them in the wine industry. They work with wineries like WillaKenzie Estate and Adelsheim Vineyard, creating a space for community and networking among people traditionally underrepresented in the wine world.
“I know that there are people who look like me who have been very curious about this industry but weren’t sure where they would fit in,” says Bramlett. “There are so many different avenues.”
Here are some other wineries that are helping to make the Oregon wine scene as diverse as the earth from which it comes.
Abbey Creek Winery
Oregon’s first and only “hip-hop winery” — run by Oregon’s first recorded Black winemaker, Bertony Faustin — is Abbey Creek Winery. With two reservation-only tasting rooms in the Portland area, in North Plains, about 30 minutes west, and downtown, the winery seeks to create its own relaxed vibe to broaden the community of wine lovers and vintners. “Regardless of how important it is that I’m the first,” Faustin says in the documentary “Bertony Faustin – Winemaker,” “I need to make sure I’m not the last.”
Be sure to check their events page regularly for information on experiences the winery hosts, like brunches and pairings.
Lois Cho and her husband, Dave Cho, a graduate of Oregon State University, became the first known Korean American winemakers in Oregon when they started their own label, Cho Wines, in 2020. Then in February 2023, Lois started the nonprofit Oregon AAPI Food & Wine with the intention of highlighting diversity in the wine industry.
To celebrate Oregon Wine Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — both in May — join the Chos for the AAPI Food & Wine Festival in May at the Stoller Family Estate Experience Center. You’ll need tickets for an evening of food and wine pairings featuring Asian-owned and operated Willamette Valley wineries, as well as Asian American chefs and sommeliers.
Chosen Family Wines
Founded by 2016 NBA champion Channing Frye of the Cleveland Cavaliers with his towering former teammate, forward Kevin Love, Chosen Family Wines seeks to connect people through wine. Its mission is to celebrate the partners and friends beloved as family, even if they technically aren’t. Check the website for events that often include meet-and-greets and pairings.
Cuban-born Mauricio and Debra Collada bring Cuban passion to Oregon pinot noir with Cubanisimo Vineyards in Salem. Mauricio is a practicing neurosurgeon, but in 2003 he added winemaker to his resume. They offer tastings and live music and have an exclusive library of wines to experience. The duo is just one of the many Latino winemakers in Oregon.
Et Fille Wines
Winemaker and former biotech consultant Jessica Mozeico grew up making wine with her father, Howard Mozeico; the two joined forces and co-founded Et Fille Wines — French for “and daughter” — in 2003. Under Jessica’s leadership, the winery was named one of the world’s best sustainable and inclusive businesses as a certified B-Corp, a designation for companies that work to create a fair economy for all with sustainable and equitable practices. As head of the Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion task force for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, she helped create a diversity tool kit for wineries. Look for special releases, like vintages that support STEM science education for youth or neonatal medical facilities.
Come celebrate the winery’s 20th birthday in May at the “Pink and White Party,” where you’ll taste new pink and white wines like viognier and rosé from newly planted vineyards.
Stephanie Pao, who is Chinese American, has been the creative force behind the wines at Foris Vineyards near Cave Junction since 2017. Her wines honor the rich terroir of the land, which sits near the Siskiyou Mountains. Prior to taking the position, Pao studied molecular biology, viticulture and enology, and she gained experience in vineyards and wineries in Oregon, Washington, California, Mexico and New Zealand.
Meadow Estate Vineyard & Winery
Dexter and Marilyn Meadows found their way to Oregon from California by way of Alabama. Looking for an adventure after retirement, they got into wine, taking over the former MarshAnne Landing Winery to put their own signature on the Umpqua Valley region with Meadows Estate Vineyard & Winery. The couple honors the land’s rich history with their syrah, cabernet franc, Cote du Umpqua and other varietals.
Now the mayor of McMinnville — the town where she was born and raised — Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines has won awards for her dessert wines and pinot gris. She also co-founded Wine Country Pride, a multi-day event that celebrates diverse voices in the wine industry with lively spectacles ranging from drag shows and block parties to a parade through town. Don’t miss the 2023 Queer Wine Fest fundraiser in June, when gay winemakers and LGBQT-friendly wineries get together to offer tastings.
What’s fun at any time of the year? Trying Drabkin’s Old World-style wines and interesting varietals like dolcetto and lagrein in a 1900s farmhouse set in the Dundee Hills.