My Reaction to Oregon Wine Press
It’s always weird winning awards, especially this early in the game (a single vintage in the bottle to our name). It feels like awards are supposed to be some grand culmination of a lifetime of work and toil. In fact, in the wine industry, it usually takes many vintages to be recognized at all.
This is why being named Oregon Wine Press’s 2016 Persons of the Year is such a surreal experience for all of us involved. In fact, when the editor for Oregon Wine Press, Hilary Berg emailed Ben, she told him she read about us and wanted to recognize Dauntless for our mission and work to come, I spent the next few weeks pretty sure I read about it in a particularly lucid dream.
Since leaving the Marine Corps a decade ago, I have been continually humbled by the care others, particularly in the NW, take toward taking care of veterans. I have always felt that we have never been pitied or held on some pedestal irrationally high above anyone else, but are taken for what we are, people who want to help the world.
This is where our mission comes in. Ultimately, we want a vineyard (and with help from the Kiva loan, we will be closer to the goal), we want to bring those veterans who have been forgotten, or who have lost themselves and help them find something new out of the chaos of real life. Bringing them in the vineyard will allow them to shrug off some of the pain they live with and bring something into the world that will make others happy.
Since exploring the possibility of joining the wine industry in Oregon, we have received an alarming amount of help and generosity on all accounts. Big players such as Gary Mortensen of Stoller Wine openly helped us establish a good brand and label that would set us up far into the future. Small wineries also accepted us and offered service and helped in whatever way possible. In short, between our loyal customers and the industry, we have always felt welcomed and helped on all fronts. And it is easier to give to others when accepted into the fold and helped. Without these,
In short, between our loyal customers and the industry, we have always felt welcomed and supported on all fronts. And it is easier to give to others when accepted into the fold and helped. Without these, success of any kind would be much harder to achieve. If this comes off as if I were accepting this gloatingly, I apologize, please read it instead as still trying to wrap my mind around the reality of the new situation that confronts us.
I remember when Dauntless was conceived. It was in Walla Walla over wine (of course), and the next morning I woke up, slightly hungover and confused thinking, Are we going to do this? Once we discussed it sober and shook hands, we began working. We pooled our meager resources and learned the ropes mainly through a succession of mistakes, help from others, and lucky breaks. Last month, shortly after receiving notice of the impending award and I looked around at the oak barrels filled with Single clone Pinot Noir and Rose for our 2016 vintage, wine bottles out for tasting, enthusiastic wine drinker asking questions about process and motivation to three crass, loud, and slightly nervous Marines turned winemakers (this is, of course, opposite of the collected and smooth talking Dean Fisher of ADEA wine, our proprietor).
Last month, shortly after receiving notice of the impending award and I looked around seemingly for the first time at the oak barrels filled with Single clone Pinot Noir and Rose of Pommard, for our 2016 vintage, red stained wine bottles out for tasting, enthusiastic wine drinkers asking questions about process and motivation to us three crass, loud, and slightly nervous Marines turned winemakers and realized how happy I am.
We do not have investors with deep pockets, corporate backing, or independent wealth, nor do we have time to do this full time ourselves. What we do have is loyalty amongst each other and our customers. We are in business not just as partners, but best friends, and brothers in arms who see a way to help a larger community of veterans in need.
We see some familiar faces almost each week as well as new ones. And each time I remember a name and a story of someone who came into the tasting room on a whim, I remember why I can no longer separate myself from wine, from fellow veterans, and our mission. I can’t separate myself from wine because I love it, and it brings us together. The mission is what drives us, and you, our customers and friends drive up to the winery when it rains and snows, or on the brisk fall days that beg for a glass of poetry and conversation. Robert Lewis Stevenson said “Wine is bottled poetry” and we are blessed to be poets.
- Paul Warmbier