Wine with Pride: Oregon’s First Queer Wine Festival
Pride Month is coming to a close... but not without a celebration of Oregon's Queer made, grown & owned wineries
June signals the beginnings of sunny weather, drinking Rosé and Chardonnay outside and seeing the Pride Flag waving proudly in honour of Pride Month. Here in the UK, the celebration of LGBTQIA+ communities culminates with London Pride on July 2nd.
Over in the Oregon Wine counties (now an 8-hour direct flight away via Portland) there's another Pride event to add to your list. The Oregon Queer Wine Fest is an inclusive, celebration of winemakers. The immersive, foodie experience debuted just last weekend with great success.
Founded and hosted by Oregon’s very own Remy Wines, the inaugural event showcased 16 vineyards from Oregon, Washington and California. Together, these wine labels represent excellence in wine production and form a network of professionals who are passionate about Oregon Wine and their respective AVAs.
In addition to being a drawcard for those who want to expand their wine-horizons, Queer Wine Fest's proceeds will be donated to the national Wine Country Pride (WCP). Funds raised will enable even more WCP events across Oregon and ensure continued support for queer growers, makers and owners.
We spoke to the festival’s founder and host, Remy Drabkin of Remy’s Wines to learn about the festival and why it's so important for the Queer Oregon Wine community.
Hi Remy! Can you tell us how the idea for the World’s First Queer Wine Fest started?
Queer Wine Fest was an off-the-cuff idea that came out of a casual conversation with Erin Butler, one of our long-time employees at Remy Wines. We discussed what we would do next at our winery once Wine Country Pride's (WCP) celebrations outgrew our property and began producing events to include the whole region. We wanted to continue to do work at the winery amplifying the LGBTQ+ community, and it felt like a natural fit to build a fundraiser for WCP's ongoing work.
How would you describe Oregon Wine’s community in one or two sentences?
Poised and ready to usher in the changes that need to happen within the global industry. It’s in our roots as Oregonians to be collaborative, sustainably-minded, and innovative.
Oregon Wine’s brand spirit is encapsulated in these words: Character in the people who make it. Character in the people who drink it. Do you feel this statement particularly resonates for queer owners, makers and growers?
I love questions about the Queer community as a whole because actually, we are so broad; we are people of colour and white people, we practice every religion and represent every nationality, generation, and socioeconomic status, and we have diverse political affiliations. That said, queer culture does collectively celebrate independence and character.
For most of us, coming out is a challenging process, and it's not something that happens singularly; we have to do it repeatedly throughout our lives and in various situations. Sometimes it is safe, sometimes it's not safe. The unique challenges we face in the queer community in and of themselves are character-building. So, I think the queer wine community identifies with this spirit of individualism and channels it into wines of character.
Which element of Queer Wine Fest are you personally looking forward to most?
I am most excited that Queer Wine Fest is providing an opportunity for Queer voices to be heard! And, we are creating a professional network for the queer community in wine that has never existed before. Queer Wine Fest is a jumping-off point for the many ways the wine industry can better honour and represent LGBTQ+ people.
What do you want people in other markets to know about the community of Oregon’s queer owners, makers or growers?
Honestly, we're too embryonic in this process for me to take the liberty to answer on behalf of the queer wine community. While we all likely share some ambitions and hopes for the future, our individual needs and wants vary.
My hope though, is that events like Queer Wine Fest and Wine Country Pride will continue to build a strong network for queer owners, makers, and growers so that we can be more connected and in community with one another.
Which of Remy Wines will be showcased during the festival?
We will be showcasing both our Dolcetto and Arneis, two Italian varieties not widely grown in Oregon. We work with some of the only vineyards producing these varieties in our area!
How would you like to see this festival grow in the coming years?
This is just the beginning, and we hope it's a launching pad for a solid queer professional wine network. We're just so excited to highlight how the queer community has contributed to the world of wine.
While you’re pondering a direct-flight to Portland… keep an eye on Remy Wine's Instagram account for more exciting Queer Wine Fest updates.