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Imbibe 75 Person to Watch: Remy Drabkin

Working in wineries since she was 14, Remy Drabkin knew wine was her future. And while the Italian varieties she produces under her Oregon-based label, Remy Wines, are gaining attention in the industry, wine is also a lens through which Drabkin can affect great change in her community.

Drabkin, who identifies as queer, co-founded Wine Country Pride, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Although out since age 16, she says she closeted herself in and around the wine industry. After hearing similar stories from others, she founded Wine Country Pride in 2020 to lift more queer voices. As the world came out of its pandemic haze, meet-ups, in-person events, and even a festival in McMinnville, Oregon, enhanced the programming and mission of the organization. The nonprofit took another big step with the inaugural Queer Wine Fest last June at Remy Wines, which featured 16 wineries from California, Washington, and Oregon. “It’s the difference between being put on display and having a platform for your voice,” Drabkin says of the day.

Drabkin, who’s been in civil service for 16 years, also wants to affect change beyond the wine world. In 2022, she was elected interim mayor of McMinnville, the first woman, and queer-identifying person, to hold the position. In November, she was elected to a full term as mayor.

If that wasn’t enough, she even found ways to make concrete better—yes, concrete. While constructing her new 5,000-square-foot winemaking facility, she partnered with a local contractor and a team of scientists to serve as the guinea pigs for a new carbon-neutral formula, named the Drabkin-Mead Formula. (Cement is responsible for 7 to 9 percent of global emissions.) “What makes a difference is when you’re able to significantly impact an existing system and make a marked improvement,” she says. “Incremental changes continually raise standards and create real change.”

Click here to read more about some of 2023’s other Imbibe 75 People and Places to Watch.

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