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Tiquette Bramlett is Harvesting BIPOC Legacy in Willamette Valley

Tiquette Bramlett Our Legacy Harvested

Oregon wine leader Tiquette Bramlett isn’t just making history for herself, she’s making history for the diverse world of wine drinkers. 

By Sedale McCall


 In 2021, just five years after moving to Oregon and starting her wine journey, Tiquette Bramlett became the first Black woman to run a winery in a major US region. It was an inspiring moment for the industry, and a win for those who couldn’t see themselves in positions of power in wine. But it’s not the beginning–nor the end– of Bramlett’s story. 

“I start from the root, which is my family,” says Bramlett. “They were a huge guiding light and set the standard of ‘nobody can tell you what you can or cannot do.’ If you have the passion for something and you love it and come at it with honesty and the energy of wanting to learn, and you’re authentic in everything that you do, success is going to be waiting for you. And it’s whatever your definition of success looks like.”

Following dreams and passion is nothing new to Bramlett. She grew up with a family legacy of breaking new ground, even if, at the time, it was illegal.

“My grandfather was the first Black general contractor in California,” says Bramlett. “He came up at a time when there was more tension. He was a Black man from Oklahoma in an interracial relationship, and relocating his young family to California. They had to start building from the ground up, and both were unafraid to dream big. They set a standard of ‘no one can tell you no.’” 

Music Leads to Wine

Wine wasn’t Bramlett’s first love; it was singing. Bramlett was a classically-trained opera singer. Though she would eventually switch her focus to wine, singing helped give her perspective on what would become her future career.

“Opera was the first place where I received a gut check from my family and my vocal coaches,” said Bramlett. “I said, ‘there’s not a lot of people that look like me,’ so I couldn’t envision myself being cast in certain roles. I’m going to go into these spaces and audition, and they’re going to put me in the chorus because there’s no Black lead. 

“We had a dear family friend who’s an uncle to me, and a jazz musician. He says, ‘first of all, how dare you say there’s never been a Black opera singer,’ and he gave me a framed picture of Marian Anderson. Immediately, I went to do research to understand why she wasn’t amplified more.”

That anger from Bramlett’s uncle was the driving force behind her foray into wine.

Tiquette Bramlett in front of stage

Tiquette Bramlett’s Wine Journey

“I was very honest in my [winery interview] when they said, ‘what do you envision yourself doing in the industry’ and I said, ‘I envision myself having your job,’” said Bramlett. “Whether it’s here or somewhere else, this is what I envision for myself. And while a lot of people thought that was crazy, I like being a dreamer. I like being able to figure out what the puzzle looks like and how I can put all of the pieces in the appropriate place.”

Bramlett’s upbringing prepared her to build her own life and career. It also planted the seed for building a community-focused organization later in life. 

“Community empowers you in a way you can’t even imagine,” says Bramlett. “You have the opportunity to learn so much from each other and from different life experiences, and that makes you more powerful, because, you know, if you stumble, you have people in your space who will hold you accountable, but also coach you through that stumble.”

When Bramlett started Anne Amie Vineyards, she saw the need to create space for people who looked like her. She conversed with her staff and mentors (she calls them “truth-tellers”). But, she needed a way to build that for others.

“There were things that I would notice– disparities and conversations and dynamics that would happen, that bothered me,” says Bramlett. “It always just struck me that I was one of few, or the only, in the space. The one thing I’ve always appreciated was my community and my truth-tellers. So what would it look like for me to build that space here, and how can I make us all feel welcomed, included, and safe? But, I also recognized that things like doing harvest or taking three months off to do this is a privilege in itself.”

Tiquette Bramlett in front of group

Creating Our Legacy, Harvested 

The COVID-19 pandemic created space for a clearer picture for Bramlett and others around her.

“When the quarantine was really happening, that was what gave me the time to put together what I envisioned Our Legacy, Harvested looking like,” said Bramlett. “And saying, ‘If I could have this thing from when I first moved here, what would my path look like’, instead of me having to build my own community. 

“I was sitting with one of my good friends who owns a place in McMinnville, and we were talking about the protests and how people would check in on us. We just kept saying to each other ‘I’m so thankful I have you in this space and can lean on you.’ But, how can we build that out? Because there’s still so many people in our community that don’t feel safe. That’s how we started building Our Legacy, Harvested.” 

Our Legacy, Harvested quickly became a place of refuge for people of color in the state. Once the picture was clear, the journey became just as clear. And, just as it does for so many in the Black community, it started by bringing the community together for fellowship. 

“We wanted to start with a block party where we could bring some levity to the moment and bring in BIPOC small businesses that people could support,” said Bramlett. “But also, we wanted to show people in this community and the Portland community how welcoming this space is. Once we built that, we had people comment that they felt safe. They didn’t see police or security and just had to thank us. It was a journey, but I’m very proud of what our team has created so far,  and what we’re continuing to push.”

Tiquette Bramlett waving

The Path Forward

Bramlett believes her organization can begin to start the change we’ve been looking for since the summer of 2020. She built the organization to help others take a similar path to her own, where each individual learns every facet of the industry.

“The one thing that Our Legacy, Harvested prides itself on is putting in programming, so they have to learn every aspect of the industry when they come in. When you’re working harvest, you’re not just working harvest,” says Bramlett. “You’re looking at bottling, journalism, compliance, all of it. We want you to see everything because your spirit may resonate with something else. Harvest may not be for you, but it’s an important part of the wine story.”

Beyond the knowledge and understanding of the industry, Bramlett focuses her efforts on leveraging her connections. Using her connections to bring more individuals into the space is how she sees a shift in the industry happening. And because of people like Bramlett, Black women running major wineries will no longer be news.

“I think being able to leverage my connections for my community is how this becomes the norm,” says Bramlett. “There are people who do not look like us that leverage connections all the time and that’s how everything is normalized in that space. So why can’t we do that for each other? If I know your abilities and I know what you’re capable of and what your goals are, I’m going to see who I know! I’m going to go through my rolodex and put that person in that room. And they [the company] know if I’m referring to them, this person is legit.”

 (If you’re interested in other organizations doing this work, check out our list of organizations doing the work.)

An extension of self

Our Legacy Harvested is not an organization that Bramlett founded, but an extension of who she is. The future of OLH is so bright because of Bramlett’s future. And the journey is only beginning for both of them. 

“The thing that makes my heart sing is community,” says Bramlett. “The thing that makes my heart sing is the moment when the light bulb turns on for someone, and that piece of the puzzle falls perfectly into place for them. I want to be able to put that on a broader scale and see what that looks like in other spaces. So my big thing is to understand how we can connect communities that are working on this in other areas to empower and uplift each other.”

If you believe in community, or Tiquette Bramlett herself, you should pay attention to Our Legacy, Harvested. There’s so much more the organization can do with support. 

“For OLH, we’re growing and increasing everything. It’s been really exciting that we’ve been able to increase the number of interns coming in this year for harvest,” says Bramlett. “We’ve been able to grow that program into something special. We’re even working on a relocation package for those that want to move here. 

“I feel like the world is our oyster. We’ve had some other wine regions that have reached out and asked how we can implement OLH into their states, which is a new piece of the puzzle that we’ve had to look at.”

Applications are now live for the 2023 internships at OLH! Six internships will be awarded for harvest season in the Willamette Valley. You can apply at: https://www.ourlegacyharvested.com/application.  If you want to learn more about Tiquette or OLH, you can learn more at https://www.ourlegacyharvested.com/ or on Instagram @OurLegacyHarvested

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