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How a Former Anesthesia Technician Became the First Black Winemaker In Oregon

Back in 2007, wine was something new to Bertony Faustin. He hadn’t even tasted wine, but today he is the first Black winemaker in Oregon.

He opened his Abbey Creek Vineyard tasting room in 2012 after he decided to take over his in-laws’ vineyard in 2007. “I was like, worst case, I’ll make raisins!” he told Food & Wine. He was an anesthesia technician at the time. His one room has turned into several. He has a second location in downtown Portland, and a third Abbey Creek in nearby Washington State on the way. He is also planning to eventually open rooms in Georgia and other East Coast states.

Bertony Faustin, founder of Abbey Creek Vineyard. (Image from https://www.abbeycreekvineyard.com/)

Abbey Creek it’s a tasting room with a twist, hip-hop and R&B music is played by a DJ in the background while visitors taste his wine offerings, which often sell out.

“I decided, you know what? I’m not going to try to fit in. I’ll just go ahead and take this and make it my own,” he told Forbes. “I modeled my business (on) who I am, the type of people I want to be around and how I want to change the world,” he said. “I do everything that I want to do, and I make a great living doing that.”

Picking up knowledge from his in-laws and teaching himself about wine-making, Faustin went all in and discovered nature will dictate the outcome most of the time.

“Mother Nature’s in control, and she still tells me what to do, how to do it,” he explained to Forbes.

His 15-acre vineyard is located in the urban West Hills of Portland, Oregon, produces six grape varieties: pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, albariño, and gamay noir.

His products are not sold in stores, but rather online and to his customers at one of his and other tasting rooms in the area.

“I don’t want anybody in control of when I make my wine, when I sell it and when it has to be ready. … If I get to sell every bottle of my wine, I get to share the story I want, as opposed to letting somebody else do that for me,” he said.

Faustin even got so into the process of winemaking that in 2015 he and his filmmaker friend Jerry Bell Jr. made a documentary about Oregon’s minority winemakers. The film, called “Red, White & Black: An Oregon Wine Story,” tells the stories of Faustin and several of his non-white winemaking colleagues, such as the late Mexican-American winemaker Jesus Guillén.

Still today, people are suprised to find out Faustin is the owner of Abbey Creek.

“People would walk in the door and always be surprised that I was the owner, or I was the winemaker,” Faustin, the son of Haitian immigrants, told Forbes.

He continually adds to his offerings.

His latest is a pinot dubbed #Roundawaygurl. He described it as a “love-me or leave-me-alone style of wine that you can dress up or dress down depending on the type of mood or atmosphere.” And his pinot noir rose is sold in a magnum-size bottle. He named his pinot noir rose #OhUFancyHuh. It’s “nails done. Hair done. Everything did. Everything BIG,” said Faustin.

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