A Boy, A Dream, Some Wine (And You)

By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly


No, I’m not going to write about how I routinely spend my weekday evenings.

I met Justin Paul Russell over Pride weekend. We chatted at the waterfront and ended up dining together with a group of friends before an eventful Saturday night out. It was then I found out this southern transplant made the trek to Oregon for one reason: to become a winemaker. The whole scenario intrigued me: strapping young gentleman boasting a sweet good-old-boy accent abandons everything he’s known and moves here to make wine named after his grandfather (Jasper Sisco)–it all felt very Under the Tuscan Sun (just the good stuff, and sort of in reverse), so I decided to interrogate him over coffee. Not only does Mr. Russell, who’s lived in Georgia and Alabama, absolutely, undoubtedly know wine, he’s as committed and determined as anyone I’ve happened upon in my humble writing career.

We’re planning a much longer feature about Russell and Jasper Sisco in an upcoming print issue, so I won’t spoil the party too much here. That said, Russell has turned to indiegogo to start and fund his burgeoning brand. Watch this:

The video is what hooked me. Also: Russell plans to only use fruit from families he knows well–here, in Oregon, he’s become quite close with the Momtazis, well-known, local winemakers. Theirs is a biodynamic farm (in layman’s terms, it’s all very eco-friendly).

As for why people should consider participating in his campaign (which has less than a week left), this from Russell himself (insert southern accent here): “The perks to participating in the campaign are the ability to have access to a small production wine that otherwise will be virtually impossible to find in the Oregon market–and you’ll be supporting agriculture and be a part of the process of building a winery from the very beginning.”

In terms of vision, this: “Jasper Sisco will be built on transparency. I want people to ask questions, to be part of the process. This brand is also all about family–both biological and chosen, which is a concept our community understands really well.”

We sure do; we also know a thing or two about supporting our own–and that’s where you come in. You can read more from Russell here. (There is also where you can help.)

Watch for our lengthier print feature on Justin Paul Russell, sommelier extraordinaire, in next month’s issue. In the interim, consider nabbing a bottle of pinot from a fledgling queer business–you have only a handful of days left. (The campaign ends on the 12th.)

Daniel is a regular columnist and blogger for PQ Monthly. PQ’s next print issues run July 19th and August 16th.