Updated: Apr 27, 2022
A few months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Vivianne Stardust Kennedy of Viv Wines and Ram Cellars. Vivianne is a Transgender woman who lives and makes wine in Portland in partnership with several vineyard owners in Oregon and Washington. Vivianne is warm and welcoming. We met outside on the patio of a friend’s backyard, and tasted through all of their wines on a sunny August afternoon – both the wines and conversation were a delight, and I am excited to share them with you!
Vivianne fell for wine in 2008 and made their first vintage in 2014 after achieving a degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington, and professional certifications in both viticulture and enology from Washington State University. She has two labels: RAM cellars, and Viv Wines (their second label, which raises funds for raises funds for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education fund and Portland’s Q center).
Let me step back, and say that VIvianne’s wines are elegant, and spacious, generally walking a balanced line between characterful floral and savory notes, power and freshness. She follows a low-intervention/ “natural wine” approach with the assertion that wine is made in the vineyard and Vivianne works very closely with her long-term grower relationships. Her Washington Malbecs really show the prettiest nature of the grape, the whites are aromatic, and delicate, and the orange wine is practically allotted.
For Vivianne, it is clear that wine is a lot about relationships, community and shared fate, which made it easy for me to pass the time sipping and chatting until it was past time to run on to the next appointment! Vivianne’s story is inspirational, and their commitment to living an authentic life is about more than self-realization, it is about being part of leading through their own bravery. Vivianne started making wine in 2014 as a man. When she came out in 2018, evidently she lost some friends, and some fruit contracts as well, but found solidarity in meaningful places, as well as in some that was unexpected to them.
Vivianne is glad to know who their real allies are, and also seeks to pay it forward to other LBGTQ people through her label VIV Wines. VIV Wines saw it’s first vintage in 2019, and is dedicated to a journey of self-love, and more! VIV wines uses it’s profits to support healing and wholeness for gender diverse populations through contributing to help secure the legal services needed to obtain identity –affirming name changes.
Vivianne produces a wide range of small batch wines; white, red and pink. She self distributes her wines, so you’ll have to have the pleasure of interacting directly with them and their team to seek them out and try!
You can learn more about Vivianne, and contact them through the RAM Cellars website: https://www.ramcellars.com/
And follow on Facebook at: @RAMcellars
On Instagram @ramcellars