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Taste for Equity Profile from Portland Business Journal

Aug 26, 2021, 12:30pm EDT

Name: Remy Drabkin

Title: Owner and winemaker. Also, a director on the Oregon Wine Board and Council President for the city of McMinnville

Specialties/varieties: Italian varietals grown in the Pacific Northwest, esp. lagreine, and traditional Pacific NW varietals pino gris and chardonnay,

Years in the industry: 15

How did find your way to wine? I grew up in the Oregon wine industry. It was a pretty young industry when I was growing up. And I’ve wanted to be a winemaker my entire life.

What was your “aha moment” in terms of realizing this is what you wanted to do? I was six. There were only about 10 families making wine here. And all of our family friends were those people. So I got to go ride tractors and make big messes and eat cinnamon rolls early in the morning and take milk gallon jugs full of Muscat juice home at the end of the day, and was surrounded by people who had all these celebrations together. They were so happy and enjoying of life. And I just loved everything about the wine industry from as long as I can remember. I started declaring very early on that I was going to be a winemaker.

What keeps you going as a winemaker? Honestly, it’s the ability to keep making my business better and better. And that ties in with this event (TASTE for Equity), and that I’m very focused on making my business and my business practices antiracist. And that is what drives me toward constant systems improvement. I realized that that also applied to equity.

Talk about the role wine can play in building a community. There’s the business side of it, there’s resources and research and education that happens when you have a focused industry. Here, the wine industry supports nonprofit endeavors of all sorts, things that are hyper specific to the wine industry like health care for vineyard workers. I think that’s great community building. And then there is just the kind of the friendship and the camaraderie that comes out of it. And of course, there’s the consumer end taking our end product and sharing it with friends and family, showing how instrumental wine can be in in personal celebrations.

Favorite Oregon winery besides your own? Oh, there are so many. It just kind of depends on my mood, what I feel like drinking, but I always like to look to the wines of the people that mentored me, the Ponzis and Rob Stuart and Rollin Soles. And I love wines that inspire me, but there are so many of us now.

What’s the best part of your job? Probably the people, because I meet a lot of them.

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