WWC20 – Day Camp and Day Wines, Oregon

Brianna Day of Day Wines and Day Camp

With no fewer than three entries to our writing competition, Aaron Bartels, flag-bearer of sustainable Oregon and fine-wine specialist for Southern Glazer's Wines & Spirits, introduces us to a tiny co-operative in Willamette Valley. See this guide to the (unedited) entries so far published.

We, especially in the West, tend all too often to isolate our narratives around an individual. Since before Homer’s Achilles or Odysseus, we think and write about one hero’s journey. The same goes for professions be they film directors, industrial moguls, athletes, politicians, and even sustainable winemakers. However, for any project to be truly sustained beyond its originator, it takes a village. Brianne Day has begun just that. Her Day Camp cooperative winery and tasting room constructs an ecosystem where multiple makers mingle, learn, and reinvent the ways we think about wine’s authorship and its sustainability.

But before the revolution, let us start with Brianne’s story. Her family moved to the Willamette Valley when she was 16. Wine-inspired, she then solo-traveled to study natural producers especially in the Loire Valley for nearly two years. She worked in France, New Zealand and Argentina, then returned to Oregon to work for sustainable producers like The Eyrie Vineyards, Brooks Winery, Grochau Cellars, Belle Pente, and Scott Paul, then retail at Storyteller Wine Company, then as a server at Portland’s French-inspired icon restaurants, Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro, then sold barrels for Bordeaux cooperage, Saury. In 2012, she made her first 125 cases from a friend’s family vineyard, which distributors in Chicago and New York City picked up and the RAW Natural Wine Fair in London invited her to pour. In 2019 her winery Day Wines made 6,000 cases, distributed to seventeen states and three countries, which broke a personal sales record, and received her first James Beard Award semi-finalist nomination in early 2020.[1]

Day Wines’ fruit comes from exclusively sustainable single vineyard sources: Tannat, Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne from Southern Oregon’s first Biodynamic vineyard Cowhorn and LIVE Certified Quady North, while Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Alsatian whites come from Biodynamic Johan, Twelve-Oaks, Belle Pente, and Momtazi vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Her methods are minimal: not filtering nor fining, adding no inputs aside from neutral barrels, occasionally cold-stabilizing, and minor SO2 only after natural malolactic conversion.[2] Many wines are co-fermented field blends or experiments with whole-clusters, pétillant naturel, or skin-contact Orange wines.

However, Day Wines often looks beyond profit to support its community. For instance, she donates all proceeds to breast cancer research from sales of 2016’s ‘Vicis’ Momtazi Vineyard as ‘a tribute to a dear friend's courageous struggle with a deadly disease’.[3] Meanwhile, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, $10 of every bottle of 2016 Pinot Noirs, ‘Broken Destemmer’ Johan Vineyard and ‘Two Pretty Barrels’ Cancilla Vineyard have gone to the NAACP in support of disadvantaged minorities ‘to create a more equitable America’.[4] Brianne uses her wine to make the world a bit better.

Brianne’s commitment to community crystalized with her creation of cooperative Day Camp in 2015. She states that ‘I feel like American culture encourages separatism for the most part’.[5] So she took her first work experience with her construction company dad, bought a large former vitamin factory in Dundee, and hired Fieldwork Design. Brianne guided them with her value of nature and organic and biodynamic farming. In 2017 they opened Day Camp’s tasting bar, which starts with a large raw timber screen entrance modeled after wine barrels, a tasting courtyard, fire pit, and patio surrounded by floor to ceiling cedar panels and giant windows that allow natural light in and views out. In this large inclusive space, she finds that ‘the efficiency of communal living became really appealing’.[6]

Day Camp winery houses up to 11 producers. It has provided equipment, mentorship, and marketing support for a diverse range cutting-edge naturalists, including Ross & Bee Maloof, Jackalope, Granville Wines, Fossil & Fawn, Script Cellars, Adega Northwest, Burner Wines, Montebruno Wine, William Marie Wines, Yamtunk Wine Company, Bud’s Bloom, Hooray for You!, J. Douglas Wines, and Ricochet. Already, many of these young guns have now found their footing in Oregon’s highly competitive wine industry. In just five years Brianne’s pride shows, ‘Day Camp is a cooperative in every sense of the word: It has brought together smaller producers who work side-by-side and collaborate throughout the year’.[7]

However, when COVID-19 shut down most tasting rooms, she feared, ‘if it drags on for months there are many, many small makers like my winery that aren’t going to make it’.[8] Brianne took over all online sales, customer service, while also winemaking. She kept adapting by posting online sales, free shipping nationwide, participating in online tastings, and slowly, safely bringing staff back.

Luckily, Day Camp’s large communal area allowed it to open for tastings earlier than most. The future for her small family growers, distributors, and customers remains uncertain. Yet, months later Brianna and Day Camp’s family of producers have adjusted. Two of Day Camp’s producers, Fossil & Fawn and Ross & Bee Maloof have joined forces and bought their own collaborative winery and vineyard No Clos Radio in August.[9] Her dream of creating a collaborative community of producers under one roof will continue to shake and complicate our hero worship paradigm. Regardless of the pandemic, sustainability will never look the same.


By Christine Dong in Jordan Michelman, ‘Brianne Day's Big Break As a Winemaker Came Because of Her Grape Tattoo, Willamette Week, February 14, 2017

Belgard, Tamara, ‘Happy Campers Winemaking: co-op, tasting room opens in Dundee, 1 April 2017

Day, Brianne, Day Wines, ‘Wines for a Cause

Day Wines website

Maloofwines Instagram


Michelman, Jordan, Eater, Should I Even Be Making Wine at All Right Now? An independent winemaker considers her options in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by Brianne Day Mar 27, 2020, 4:30pm EDT

Revel, Luc, Sprudge, ‘Day Camp: The Stunning New Wine Tasting Room From Oregon’s Day Wines 30 May 2017

Signer, Rachel, Eater, ‘How Brianne Day is Leading the Next Generation of Natural Oregon Winemakers June 30, 2015


[1] Day Wines website

[2] ‘Most people sulfur at the crush pad,’ she said, speaking generally about winemakers everywhere, ‘but I don’t want to kill the microorganisms there,’ Rachel Signer, Eater, ‘How Brianne Day is Leading the Next Generation of Natural Oregon Winemakers’, 30 June 2015

[4] Brianne Day, Day Wines, ‘Wines for a Cause

[8] Jordan Michelman, Eater, Should I Even Be Making Wine at All Right Now? An independent winemaker considers her options in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by Brianne Day Mar 27, 2020, 4:30pm EDT