'Local Story' of North Plains-area winemaker presented
Western Washington County is full of people from all over, with diverse stories and experiences and events that led them to the area. Often, the most profound stories that make up this
diversity go untold.
However, the Washington County Museum educators are trying to change this with something they call "Local Story." The project aims to share the stories of local people who are currently making history in one way or another, expanding beyond the four walls of the museum to offer a "living exhibit."
The local story on Thursday, Feb. 22, was that of Bertony Faustin, the proprietor of Abbey Creek Vineyard & Winery in North Plains and the first black winemaker in Oregon.
"We are beginning to respond to our lack of diversity in terms of what and who and how we represent people and their oral histories," said Nathanael Andreini, director of education at the museum, 17677 N.W. Springville Road in Rock Creek. "We are also recording (the local stories), collecting them and archiving them into our permanent collection, and then we will be disseminating these stories just like we do the pioneer stories that we have from the past."
Guests sipped on Faustin's wine while he shared his own story, followed by the premiere of his documentary "Red, White & Black." The document sheds light not only on his personal experience, but the stories of other minority winemakers across Oregon.
A first-generation Haitian- American, Faustin grew up in New York City before making his way to the West Coast. His in-laws owned land in Oregon and, being in between jobs at the time, Faustin had the idea of turning the land into a vineyard and opening up a winery.
Faustin said for the first few years, he felt as though he had to follow the model in front of him. But with time and confidence, he began to realize he and his brand could be whoever they wanted to be.
"Everything that made me and my brand and my label successful is because I'm different. ... I look at it as my driving force," Faustin said.
Though he didn't think of himself as a pioneer, he began to embrace the title, Faustin said.
"For me, what's important about being the first is making sure I'm not the last," said Faustin. "That's all about awareness, getting the word out, getting the story out."
This is what motivated Faustin to make the documentary, he said, to share his story and those of other underrepresented minorities.
"I'm trying to change the face of the next 50 years of winemakers, wine-drinkers and the wine industry," Faustin said.
In a small and predominantly white community like North Plains, Faustin said the response he has received over the years has been mostly positive.
Faustin's film will be available for viewing in various theaters after March 15, and he plans to host a monthly screening at his winery with dinner and, of course, wine.
The Washington County Museum will host more Local Story programs throughout the year. For more information, visit washingtoncountymuseum.org
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