Bertony Faustin—head of the hip-hop-blasting, cool-as-hell Abbey Creek Winery in North Plains—was right in the middle of expanding his grape empire as the coronavirus shutdown hit. He says this won’t stop him, and it’s time for the wine industry to band together.

Embrace crisis mode.

“Not to sound insensitive, but this is a great time for opportunity. We’re opening up our second location, in downtown Portland. But all of this allowed me to renegotiate my lease and terms I had with the landlord there. So there’s all of these positive things that are occurring out of this whole crisis. I just got approached for opening up a third location over on the Alberta side. If I wasn’t in crisis mode I wouldn’t have even considered it, but again this is an opportunity that I could probably leverage to get the terms that I want.

“I’m also on the Oregon Wine Board. And part of what we’re working on is starting with our own guidelines to give to the governor. It’s our own proactive way of not waiting for them to say, ‘OK, this is what you can do and how.’”

Don’t race to the bottom to keep customers.

“What’s worked well for me is we never prided ourselves on just selling stuff. My business was built on relationships. So, when everybody else’s gut reaction was doing discounts, they were giving everything away. For me it was just time to huddle. I’ve got my base, and I’ve always made sure I’ve taken care of my base. And those are the folks that are coming out and supporting us. I mean, for any business my whole thing is always, don’t just sell the product, sell a feeling, an emotion. Because at the end of the day someone’s going to have a cheaper price.”

Realize what you’re actually selling.

“When I see other brands still with the same, ‘We’re a small, handcrafted, family winery’—no one gives a fuck at the end of the day. You’ve got to give them something more. It’s got to be bigger than wine or bigger than whatever the little product that you think you’re selling is. Hopefully for businesses that are going through this, it is an eye-opening point for them.” 

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