Welcome back to another season of Wine Crush! In our first episode, we sat with local Oregon winemakers, Ben and Jason to learn more about their wines. The first centers on a veteran-owned and operated winery whose mission is to serve the veteran community through charitable contribution; and the second showcases and urban winery, located in SE Portland, whose philosophy is informed by the old-century winemakers of Europe… and Jazz!
Ben Martin, Co-founder & Winemaker, Dauntless Wine Co.
Jason Gersing, Founder & Winemaker, Gersing Cellars
Ben Martin - Dauntless Wine
Ben served as an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) crewman with the 7th Marine regiment out of 29 Palms, CA. In 2003 Ben participated in the invasion of Iraq with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. In 2004 and 2005 Ben deployed with the 31st MEU out of Okinawa, Japan.
After his enlistment, Ben began college and studied web design and branding at Portland Community College, Pacific University, and the Art Institute of Portland. In between classes he found a passion for small business, which propelled him into agency work and brand management.
In 2012 Ben helped launch a pilot non-profit aimed at rehabilitating veterans through permaculture. This program showed promise that agriculture can be an alternative treatment for Veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI. Looking for inspiration he found that the French Foreign Legion houses over 100 aging Legionaries on a vineyard chateau where they grow grapes, make wine, and find peace. Ben wondered – “Why not here?”
It was not until February 2014 that the idea of veteran viticulture re-emerged during a Walla-Walla wine trip with co-founders Ryan Mills and Paul Warmbier. Excited about the possibilities, the three launched Dauntless Wine Company that December.
Ben is now scheduled to graduate from the Chemeketa Wine Studies program with an AS in winemaking and vineyard management. On May 18th, 2017 Ben was awarded the Wine Studies “Emerging Leader” award for his efforts launching Dauntless Wine Company while attending the program.
Jason Gersing - Gersing Cellars
Jason has two great passions: jazz and wine. Not long after Jason picked up the saxophone in 6th grade was he transcribing “Cannonball” Adderley and Sonny Stitt, and he continued to study throughout high school and college. Jason then moved to New York to study and play with some of the best jazz musicians in the world.
Of course, musicians need a day job to support their jazz habit. One such job was working harvest at Bedell Cellars on Long Island. Jason had been bitten by the wine bug while studying in Italy, but experiencing crush deepened his fascination with the winemaking process.
Jason spent the next three years exploring the wine regions of France and Italy and studied Enology and Viticulture at Montpellier Supagro in the south of France. Missing the U.S. but wanting a new American experience, Jason moved to Portland, Oregon. After taking Business courses at Portland State University and Enology and Viticulture courses at Chemeketa Community College, Jason joined Argyle Winery where he was in charge of production planning and inventory management, though he participated in almost every facet of the operation. At Argyle, Jason gained not only a unique education in sparkling wine production but also a broad overview of a complex and growing wine company.
When not in the cellar or the vineyard, “Goose” can probably be found either listening to live jazz or playing saxophone with one of several Portland-based groups.
We uncork stories about winemakers from Willamette Valley and nearby. Oregon Wine Wednesdays launching April 2019, where we take our experience on-location to share with your their unique winery hospitality.
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