Remy Drabkin knows Oregon wine well. After all, she grew up in Oregon as the state’s wine industry was coming of age. Drabkin started working at Ponzi Vineyards at 13 years old and, in 2006 when she was only 25 years old, she started her own winery with the labels Remy Wines and Three Wives Wines. While Three Wives produces pinot noir and chardonnay, Remy Wines is a novelty in the region, producing strictly Italian varietals.
What was it like growing up in the wine industry here?
It was a close-knit community of intellectual creatives and entrepreneurs who knew how to throw a good party. We celebrated everything together. Most of these explorers had relocated to the Willamette Valley—it was a huge risk and they supported each other with both friendship and patronage. It was fabulous.
Yamhill Valley is focused on pinot noir and chardonnay. Why did you decide to go in a different direction for Remy Wines with Italian varietals?
I developed a passion for exploring lesser-known Italian varietals and was happy to find others had done experimental plantings. When I launched Remy Wines as an Italian focused brand, much of the groundwork had been … planted, but no one had focused on just these grapes. I had been producing my own wines for a few years before starting commercially, and my colleagues were excited. I was offering something new to an established industry. In fact, I’ve produced a pinot noir every year I’ve been in business (since 2006) but after getting media attention for my other wines, especially my lagrein, pinot kind of became my “dirty little secret.”
What do you think sets Remy Wines apart from other wineries in the region?
We do a lot that is unique. For example, our wines are aged anywhere from fourteen months up to three years in barrel—we even have a ten-year barrel aging project. We also have two labels but not two tiers. Three Wives are wines without rules while Remy Wines are all single vineyard, limited production, have extended barrel aging, are sealed with a glass cork and strive to be Old World style.
What are you excited about in Oregon’s wine industry right now?
Oregon is being recognized nationally and globally as a producer of high quality wines. Industry leaders have worked hard to achieve this, to garner not only the deserved recognition but to relay that message to the greater public. I’m excited to see that message go beyond pinot. The Oregon wine industry has seen a lot of growth recently, and my hope is that with that expansion and change, we will stay true to some pillars of Oregon, meaning an eye is always focused on environmental health over profits. Lastly, I’m ecstatic to see more colleges and universities offering programs geared towards the very many aspects of the wine industry.