Flaneur Wines | Our Story
Marty Doerschlag – Founder
Flâneur—it’s the life I lived between selling my first company and starting Flâneur Wines. I observed the world, went slowly, traveled without a map, and noticed small details. This carefree time eventually led me to Oregon and some of the finest lands for cultivating grapes.
Growing up in Dublin, Ohio, I was surrounded by farms and learned to appreciate that hard work yields exceptional results. In college, I gravitated toward friends who worked in restaurants and was the cheerful beneficiary of their cooking experiments. I learned how to pair wines with food and began to understand how wine elevates the experience.
In 2005, I sold my shares in WD Partners, Inc., a design, architecture, and construction management firm started by my father. I was burned out. Our firm had grown from 13 people to 600 and we had been named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. All the while, I made sure that our company retained the feel of a small, personal business. But I was ready to pursue happiness somewhere else.
That somewhere turned out to be farming grapes—pinot noir specifically—and nowhere are conditions better than in the Willamette Valley. I’ve assembled a world-class team for each stage of the process—farming, winemaking, hospitality—each part of equal importance. Our tight-knit group works together toward our shared goal: building one of the top wine brands in the world.
To me, Flâneur Wines means delivering excellence in everything and for everyone, whether employee, guest, distributor, or retail partner. I invite you to visit Flâneur Wines and experience what I mean. Once you come here, you’ll want to return again and again.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: Winemaking is incredibly sensory, so every experience at Flâneur has a special place in my memories. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing our vineyards full of ripened grapes ready to be turned into wine, or experiencing the mouthwatering smell of the winery during fermentation.
Grant Coulter – Winemaker / Director of Vineyards
Wine has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, my family made many trips to Napa and Sonoma but I had no idea I could be a “winemaker”. It’s not the kind of career choice that’s suggested by high school guidance counselors. As I got older, I became intrigued by the idea of creating something from nature through a process that merged tradition with provocative ingenuity.
My career in winemaking began in California and Australia but I found my true calling in the organic and biodynamic vineyards of Oregon. I started as an assistant winemaker for Hamacher Wines and then moved to Beaux Freres, assisting the owner and winegrower Michael Etzel. There, I worked in every facet of winegrowing and winemaking, and after 6 years was promoted to full winemaker. One of my proudest accomplishments is making the 2014 Beaux Freres, Beaux Freres Vineyard, which was named Wine Spectator’s #3 wine of 2016.
I fell in love with the vineyards at Flâneur. With the phenomenal range of raw materials and the freedom to express my artistic vision, I’m able to take risks and guide the wines in different directions without chemicals and manipulation. In the vineyard, I oversee all operations and picking decisions. In the winery, I supervise all winemaking from harvest and fermentation through élevage, blending, and bottling. I take the time to understand the idiosyncrasies of the vineyards and work to amplifying their unique characteristics in each wine.
Artistic creation runs in my veins. Whether making wines, painting, or designing I am always listening to and observing my environment, soaking in my surroundings and spending time with those I love.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: To help cultivate the new harvests each year, we welcome a crop of interns. I have thoroughly savored getting to know all of these helping hands, who inevitably leave their indelible marks on the wines—and on me.
Russell Lichtenthal – Director Hospitality & Sales
Growing up watching cooking shows and reading chef memoirs, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in food. I gravitated to the kitchen, earning my culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University in Providence and a degree in hospitality management from Le Cordon Bleu in Australia.
But I quickly realized that life in the front of the house suited me better. I developed a passion for wine, and coupled with my love of guest interactions, I took numerous wine courses on my days off, giving me a wonderful foundation of knowledge to build upon.
For eight years, I lived the life of the flâneur, traveling from country to country, soaking up the exciting cultures and each unexpected experience. I worked at famed hotels and restaurants— the Pierre Hotel in New York City, Terroir Wine Bar, and the Four Seasons in DC—and worked nine months of harvest in Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. I also worked for wine importers in China for three years.
Landing at Flâneur Wines was the fulfillment of a vision. I believe wholeheartedly in our mission and approach to wines because that’s how I like to live my life: simply and driven to excel. As Director of Hospitality & Sales, I am responsible for leading guest relations and helping grow the Flâneur winery. When I’m not traveling and forging new sales partnerships, you’ll find me splitting my time between hosting guest tastings and designing the Grain Elevator—or watching Seinfeld or playing guitar.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: For my last interview, I came out to Oregon for two days to explore the vineyards and the Grain Elevator. For me, it was like looking into the future at what my life could be.
Brooke Jefferson – Regional Sales
When guests point out, “Wow, you really enjoy what you do!” I love it, because it’s true. I could have continued on the expected route—Georgetown University grad turned paralegal at a prestigious New York City law firm, seeking out top tier law schools—but I jumped off that path and chose the life of a flâneur for a while.
During this time, I realized I don’t just enjoy wine, I have a voracious curiosity about it. While studying abroad in South Africa, I visited upwards of fifty wineries. While working in New York, I visited fine wine shops and high-end restaurant bars, opting to spend my paycheck on good wines over food. When I moved to Colorado, I moved into wine sales.
On a trip to Oregon, I fell in love with the collaborative nature of the local wine community. Wineries praised one another and gave recommendations on where to visit next, and I loved working in the tasting rooms at Bergstrom and Bethel Heights. And then one night at a restaurant, I was introduced to Flâneur’s 2013 Willamette Valley and the story of the wine.
It didn’t take me long to seek a job at Flâneur Wines. And when I landed my current position, I never looked back. I oversee wholesale sales to retailers and restaurants throughout Oregon. As hospitality in an important part of the Flâneur Wine ethos, I work to develop our hospitality experiences and cultivate relationships with our guests and club members.
Taking my passion to the next level, I am studying for the WSET Level 3 exam and am working towards a degree in winemaking. As a descendant of President Thomas Jefferson (also a great wine connoisseur!), my love of wine just may be in my genes.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: During my first harvest experience, I spent the morning inside a tank, picking out leaves as grapes poured down over my head. From that crop came our carbonic 2017 La Belle Promenade Vineyard Pinot Meunier—a uniquely vibrant wine that perfectly encapsulated my unforgettable experience that day in the tank.
James Alexander – Cellar Master
I found my calling being outdoors. Rotating seasonal jobs took me as far north as Alaska, where I guided outdoor adventure trips and fished for salmon, and to the Southern Hemisphere where I worked in vineyards. I’ve done lots of jobs in between: working at an organic plant nursery, doing carpentry, being a hand at an Australian cattle ranch, harvesting wild Pacific Northwest mushrooms. In between gigs, I found time to climb several 20,000-foot peaks.
When I decided to set down roots, I looked toward home in the Willamette Valley where Flâneur Wines was just beginning. It’s rare to have the opportunity to help build a winery from the ground up. The reason I stuck around is pretty simple: it’s all about the people. Everyone here is authentic and works exceptionally hard.
My responsibilities cover a lot of territory. In the vineyards, it encompasses pruning, arbor management, and harvesting. Back in the cellar, I help with blending, racking, bottling, and fermentation management. And so much more.
We spend a lot of time working on our wines, keeping them as natural as possible without sacrificing quality. I appreciate the focus that goes into each vintage, and the latitude to explore and experiment to create provocative wines that accentuate the nuances of each vineyard block.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: The first morning of the first harvest of each year is spectacular. We spend all winter, spring, and summer working on the grapes and nurturing them, and then that first day, when the entire vineyard is full of perfect grapes, we can truly see the fruits of our labor.
Jaime Cantu – Vineyard Manager
Growing grapes didn’t start as a passion for me; at first, it was just a job. But the more I did it and the more I learned, the more I became personally invested in the land and the vines. I made vineyard management my career and I’ve never considered anything else.
With 29 years of industry experience, I’m fortunate to have worked in such well-recognized wineries as Domaine Drouhin and Stoller, Lone Star, Spirit Hills, and Knudtson Vineyards. Working with a variety of growers and winemakers, I’ve absorbed techniques and knowledge that you can’t learn from any textbook.
The boutique approach of Flâneur and the opportunity to work closely with the owner and winemakers were things I could not pass up. I wholly embrace the mission of organic farming and the challenge to have our vineyards recognized as some of the best organic farms in the valley—if not the world.
Perhaps my favorite part of working at Flâneur is the team spirit. We all work hard, but then, like the flâneur, take time to relax over a meal, enjoy each other’s company, and breathe in the pure Oregon air. I believe that our collective desire to create the finest wines and hospitality experiences is what distinguishes Flâneur from other wineries. And as a pilot in my free time, there is nothing I enjoy more than the beautiful site below when flying over our vineyards.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: It is difficult to pick one favorite moment when my Flâneur experience has been a collection of memorable times. But the hard work that unites us during harvest is particularly striking, and I cherish how we come together for family-style lunch even on our longest, toughest days.
Ruben Lopez – Field Worker, Tractorist
Good people. Good vision. Good work. It’s what makes our jobs enjoyable—and what drew me to Flâneur Wines. Before joining Flâneur, I worked at Argyle Winery for 15 years, helping to produce award-winning wines by carefully farming and harvesting prized grapes and vines. It was an immense learning experience that expanded my knowledge about vineyards and wines.
When Flâneur opened, I wanted the challenge of something new and to be a part of developing a world-class winery from the ground up. I found a family at Flâneur, where every single employee is recognized and valued. The same care that goes into producing our wines and tending to our vineyard is extended to our people and our guests.
And when our work day is done, we get to enjoy our beautiful surroundings in the Willamette Valley. For me, that may mean going for a run or joining friends in dance.
Favorite Flâneur Wine Experience: The camaraderie of the team, from the top-down, always amazes me. Marty travels a lot, but when he is in town, he always stops by the vineyard and is the first to give a welcoming high five or hug. It’s a genuine gesture, and it’s unique to Marty and Flâneur.