BRIANNE DAY: WINEMAKER
In early September, as the annual grape harvest was nearing the end of its manic peak, I stopped by Brianne's ambitious new facility in Dundee, Oregon, where she and a handful of other winemakers were assertively moving through the many steps involved in getting 2016's grapes on lockdown. For all of the romance around winemaking, it is dirty, hard, repetitive work. It seemed the best antidote to all of that was jokes. Jokes are always the way through, aren't they? Brianne is a powerhouse. Each of her wines comes with a good story, whether it's the nicknames of her mentors, in honor of her dear friend, or jokingly named after a friend who hates sparkling wine. Her natural wines are curious, inventive, and lovely.
BRIANNE in her own words:
What do you do?
I have a winery and make wine. I also provide "custom crush" services to other small wineries.
How did you come into the work that you do now?
I have been completely driven by a passion for wine that ignited when I was a teenager while traveling in Italy. It developed over the years and through working in various aspects of the industry I got to where I am now. I was fairly consumed by a subject and studied everything I could about it.
What are the biggest challenges of your work?
The work itself is physically demanding and owning a small business requires total attention until it gets off the ground. Competition is fierce, it's a luxury product so the market wobbles based on the economy. The constant need to promote, not just my wine but me myself, it very very challenging.
What do you love most about it? I physically love to make wine. I love when it turns out well, when others appreciate it, when it brings joy to someone's life. I love the solitude of it, I love pouring my heart into something.
What are the biggest misconceptions about what you do?
That it's glamorous, all swirling wine glasses and dinners. It IS a lot of that, but the misconception is that it is glamorous and fun to always be doing that. It's difficult to keep momentum and enthusiasm about anything that is such a big part of ones life. It can be exhausting to be expected to be in "dinner party mode" all the time, especially for someone who tends toward introversion like I do. The social expectations are really hard for me.
Have you found that being a woman impacts your experience in your industry?
Definitely. It's traditionally a male dominated industry and I feel like I have to really push myself hard to be noticed, to make it and to be taken seriously. I oftentimes either get talked to like I'm stupid, or have men fetishize what I do because they think it's "sexy." I know being a woman who makes wine is a very different experience than being a man who does so.
Learn more about Brianne's amazing natural wines here.