Written by Natalie Monroe
Wine with a mission: from the battlefield to the home front.
Ben Martin is making a big splash with his Dauntless Wine Cømpany in Forest Grove, Oregon.
An early recipient of our Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, his growth has been on a steady uphill ever since.
He shares his story with eager customers who swirl and sip their glasses in his red brick tasting room – which is adorned with wood from a torn down local barn and tastefully decorated with military antiques. It’s tasting room meets military museum.
“[In 2015] We were just starting out making wine in the back of a horse barn. We had no sales, no exposure. And we needed to bottle the vintage of wine – but we had no supply of bottles, corks, or labels. FVC stepped in and gave us a grant for the supplies. If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have…well actually, I don’t know what we would have done, honestly….”
Reflecting back on his early years, Ben shares “I wasn’t very studious in high school, so I knew college wasn’t for me. I joined the Marine Corps because I felt like it was the only branch that wasn’t trying to sell me on joining them. Instead of bonuses and ranks they said the food was going to be bad and it would take a lot to promote,” he chuckles.
That’s when he enlisted.
After his service and a return to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Ben realized that office jobs weren’t for him. “I was kind of an HR nightmare, you could say. I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinion and back it up.”
He felt like he wanted to make something. “Agriculture was just a natural fit.” With zero experience in viticulture, he took a couple classes at a local community college.
Ultimately he founded Dauntless with two veteran buddies. The rest is history. They are growing their brand in a very hands-on way. A way Ben describes as allowing him to have a personal relationship with every barrel in his cellar…
He exudes veteran support. Employs veterans, serves other veteran products, projects old WWII movies onto his tasting room wall, educates the public on veteran affairs, and his wine labels pay tribute to important historical moments in time. Dauntless celebrates Marine Corps Birthday each year with a cake cutting.
“I’m much more relaxed these days. I feel more of a sense of a mission, a goal, something to live for, something that I appreciate and that I’m proud of.”
We’re proud of him, too.