“I didn’t want to be anybody’s pioneer. I just wanted to make wine. ”
— Bertony Faustin
Bertony Faustin got his grit from his father. “My dad escaped from Haiti in the late ’60s,” he says. “That whole idea of just doing you, owning who you are, and being happy in your own skin… All [he] did was get his grind on. [He] wasn’t worried about anybody else.”
After his father passed in 2007, Faustin began to rethink his lifestyle. “Death always makes you stop and reassess life [and] happiness,” Faustin says. So, when the opportunity arose to capitalize on seven acres of unused land from his in-laws, he took it. By 2008, Faustin was doing his own thing as a “wine farmer”—or, as he’s better known, as Oregon’s first Black winemaker.
“I didn’t want to be anybody’s pioneer,” Faustin says. “I just wanted to make wine.” Nearly a decade later, he isn’t afraid to embrace the title or admit he’s more passionate about the opportunities wine provides rather than the beverage itself. He also doesn’t shy away from noting the historical factors that prevent people of color from participating in the wine industry. Unabashed authenticity is what guides the vibrancy of the Abbey Creek brand, and the North Plains tasting room embodies this.
You can only purchase Abbey Creek wines in person or online. Luckily, a trip to the tasting room is well worth the short trek. With a unique, casual flavor, the space blasts hip-hop and pairs wines with hot sauce and plantain chips. Local artwork and flyers for Faustin’s forthcoming documentary, Red, White, and Black: An Oregon Wine Story, are displayed. Faustin isn’t the typical winemaker—there’s no pedigree or generational legacy behind Abbey Creek—and that’s exactly his style. “It’s still very surreal and humbling to know that what you do day in and day out inspires and empowers others to not just make wine, but to do any damn thing.”
Storyteller: Jenni Moore | Photos: Joshua James & Cervante Pope | Published December 2017