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REMY DRABKIN - Making her own wine in Oregon's Willamette Valley since 2003. Owner of Remy Wines.

How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.

I started poking around vineyards and wineries before I can remember, clear memories of tractor rides during harvest by about six, declared I wanted to be a winemaker by age eight and landed my first harvest position at 14. I never really stopped working in wine since that time. I've had great mentors in the industry and some formal study. I started making my own wines in 2003 and launched my first brands, Remy Wines and Three Wives Wines, in 2006. I'm the winemaker, owner and GM.

Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?

I loved doing punchdowns with the Ponzi family when I was really young, watching the pink bubbles overtake the cap. It was magical to me. I grew up around a lot of wine families, Oregon's first wineries, and I always aspired to be a part of the wine world.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I think there are two different things that I really love - one is when I make a wine that I'm really really proud of, like my recent methode champenoise sparkling project, Black Heart. It sold out in less than three weeks. The other really rewarding part of my job is when I see my team functioning at a high level. I work hard to create a really fantastic work environment and seeing happy people at work makes me happy.

Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry?

How long do you have?

When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by advocating for diversity and inclusion?

I don’t think — I know our industry will see a return on investment. We’ll be presenting that information at the Oregon Wine Symposium this year in our Diversity Seminar. So other than being on the right side of history, cultural competency will lead to greater industrial success.

What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?

I hope to see more BIPOC and LGBTQ people in leadership roles in the wine industry. That can happen if industry leaders are intentional in expanding their reach and examining their hiring practices.

What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?

When our boards, panels, committees, editorial pages, executive teams, and workforces are so inclusive that they don’t demand scrutiny.

In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?

I get a few points for representing minorities in leadership and the industry as a gay, Jewish woman in wine. However, none of that is intentional. What is intentional is the mandatory DEI training at Remy Wines for all employees. My employees have been with me for a long time, but when I need to hire again, I'll be examining my own hiring practices. I spent the last year and a half working with Dr Jeff Peterson to conduct Oregon’s first ever diversity survey. We partnered with Assemblage – a nonprofit aimed at the advancement, empowerment, and education of women and diverse communities in the wine industry – to complete and distribute the survey.

What message do you have for anyone now entering the wine profession?

Trust your instincts.

What other industry heroes do you admire and why?

The Ponzi Family - all of them. They are smart, graceful, innovative, hard working, fun and kind. Hawk Wakawaka - Elaine's carved her own place in the world of wine and built great community. She's engaging and fun to talk to and I like her artwork. Elisabetta Foradori - her wines are amazing. I like her smaller, experimental lots especially and I'm pretty sure beauty just naturally surrounds her at all times.
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