Sunday, September 06, 2015

Minority winemakers look to change industry's stereotypes

Bertony Faustin didn't set out to be Oregon's first black winemaker. He just wanted to make good wine. But the disbelief that often comes when customers realize a black man owns the winery has worn on him. "People are always surprised. Everybody assumes that ... I am not the winemaker," said the 43-year-old, who four years ago opened Abbey Creek Winery about 20 miles northwest of Portland. "The image of the winemaker is an old white guy. To see that it's a black man, it takes people aback."

The industry's stereotype, Faustin said, is one of status and racial homogeneity — photographs in wine publications feature manicured homes, expensive tasting rooms and white families touting well-bred pedigrees. Yet, more African-Americans and other minorities are increasingly making and drinking fine wine and wine-tasting clubs for African -Americans have proliferated. The shift, many experts say, is making the industry less elitist and attracting a diversity of customers, but comes with its own challenges.

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