Not Your Average Winemaker

April 12, 2016 (Updated December 28, 2016)

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. The film is currently being screened in select locations across the state.

By sharing his and other minority winemakers’ stories through film (which started as a passion project through Kickstarter last year), Faustin 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,” he says.

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 (their children are now nine and seven) about the same time Faustin took a couple of winemaking classes and found a mentor.

In 2008 they 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’ll 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. There’s Jesus Guillen of Guillen Family Wines in Dayton, Oregon’s first Mexican winemaker. Another is Remy Drabken of Remy Wines in McMinnville, a lesbian winemaker who is still asked if her 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.

Faustin says he couldn’t be happier with the path he chose and the work he’s doing. “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

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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