Meet The Black Man Behind The Northwest’s Only Hip Hop Winery
By DeAnna Taylor
“Hip Hop, wine, and chill” is the motto at Abbey Creek Vineyard. The North Plains, Oregon winery is the only hip hop winery in the Northwest, but there’s more. It is also owned by Oregon’s first Black winemaker.
Bertony Faustin isn’t your traditional winemaker. Prior to even opening his business, he didn’t drink. He likes to think of himself as an accidental winemaker.
The former Brooklyn resident moved across several states, with the intention to land in California. However, life planted him in Oregon. Bertony met his wife, started a family, and decided to make things work right where he was.
“My father passed away in 2007,” Bertony told Travel Noire. “I have Haitian roots and just always felt like I wasn’t living up to the legacy. I wasn’t happy in my job as an anesthesiologist, and wanted to do something to make my father proud.”
Bertony’s in-laws owned about 5-acres of grapes. They simply planted them for the tax break, but Bertony had bigger plans. He was going to make wine, and if that didn’t work he would opt for making raisins.
“I started the winery in 2007. I never really accepted my title as a trailblazer or being the first Black winemaker in this area. I was never one to follow trends or the status quo. I just went out and did things the way I wanted.”
In 2015, Oregon was celebrating 50 years of wine. When Bertony looked around, he realized he was the only Black face among a mostly white-male crowd. “It finally set in then. After that, I wanted to focus more on representation by highlighting my story as well as several other “firsts” in this industry. I created my documentary ‘Red, White, and Black’ to do just that.”
Bertony prides himself on being nontraditional in an otherwise regimented industry. “F*ck the traditional. For me, it’s all about the experience, not the wine. You can get good wine anywhere, including a gas station. So that’s not my focus when you visit.”
When guests visit Abbey Creek they are met with hip hop playing throughout the tasting room. There isn’t some fancy tour or overly informative “spill.” It’s simply about coming in and having a good time, getting to know the people in the room, and vibing out while tasting great wines.
“I couldn’t fit into the industry. I’m just going to do me. To me, music sets the tone and perception of things. Our music sets the tone for what will happen. We break bread around here. I’m not gonna sit and talk to you about sh*t that I can google,” Bertony said.
“I’m changing the world, by changing the game. I’m giving my truth, and people love that.”
Abbey Creek Vineyard, only 30-minutes outside of Portland, is open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm until 5 pm. It is a drop-in format unless you are bringing a large group.
The tastings are only $10 with several upgrade options including a chipotle sauce pairing for an additional fee. “People don’t realize how good Chipotle sauce actually goes with wine. You’ll be amazed.”
Once a month they host special events such as art night, a brunch, or their supper club. They will soon open a 2nd tasting room in downtown Portland, this October.
If you aren’t able to visit in person, you can purchase wines via the website. They are able to ship across 30 states.
Finally, to the other Black business owners who may feel defeated, Bertony had this advice: “Don’t be afraid to truly do you. You live every day but only die once. Be transparent, people connect with that. The more you connect with people, the more things will fall into place.”
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.