A passion for vinting

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After serving his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Air Force retired Corey Christman and wife Jennifer are using their passions to continue giving back to those who served through their own wine label — Bravery Wines.

After retiring from the Air Force in 2012, Christman started his hobby as a home winemaker. Becoming more and more fascinated by the process, he decided to grow his skills.

Christman grew up in Oswego, and his parents Vaughn and Renae Christman, live in Rome.

“I enrolled in a certificate program at Washington State University, and after completing enology and commercial wine making operations courses, I was introduced to John and Ann Martini, owners of Anthony Road Wine Company, in Penn Yan, and head wine maker, Peter Becraft. I began an internship there in 2014, and never left,” said Christman. “These days I split time between my home in Johnstown, Pa., but I also have a residence on Seneca Lake, right in Penn Yan. I have a consulting business as well.”

When Christman first started out, he was working primarily harvest, which was from September to November or December, but now is in the Seneca Lake region throughout the year working various facets of the wine business.

It was about 18 months ago that he and wife Jennifer decided to bring their own label, Bravery Wines, to life. The wine was originally to launch around Memorial Day, but due to COVID-19, the Christmans decided to delay their debut. But come Veterans Day, it was time to “flip the switch,” Corey said.

“The response thus far has been unbelievable,” said Christman. For Thanksgiving, “we got tons of pictures of wine on people’s Thanksgiving tables. When I first started in the wine business, I wasn’t sure where I would go with it. But as years started clicking by, I thought it would be nice to have my own label. At one point I thought of having my own winery, but it wasn’t in the cards. I pitched the idea for Bravery Wines to Anthony Road Wine Company, and they were all for it.”

Bravery Wines, a new Finger Lakes brand, debuted four handcrafted wines on Nov. 11. And in honor of all veterans, Bravery Wines is donating a portion of proceeds of each bottle sold to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a veteran service organization that supports injured service members and their caregivers.

Corey and Jennifer have dedicated their lives to being advocates for the military, veteran and first responder communities. Christman served as a USAF Special Agent in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jennifer said she is a proud veteran spouse and has dedicated her personal and business endeavors to serving veterans, their family members and caregivers. She is considered a go-to national expert on mental health solutions and veteran resources and serves on several national boards, including president of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. She is also a national speaker who advocates for equitable access to behavioral health care.

“Jennifer is president of her own company, MyAdvisor/VetAdvisor, which provides holistic care for veterans across the world, and they do it via a structured coaching model, serving veterans for the past 20 years,” Corey explained. “And her company has provided support for over 1 million contacts since they’ve been in operation. But because she’s a subject matter expert, she was selected to be on the board of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. So when we decided to bring Bravery Wines on line, we said, ‘Hey, it makes sense to donate money back to the Yellow Ribbon Fund.’ A lot of the 501’s — many rely on events of some kind to generate funds, and because the YRF hasn’t been able to have any kind of events due to COVID-19, their funding has been cut drastically.”

Having worked side-by-side with wine-maker Becraft to hone his wine making skills at Anthony Road Wine Company, Christman has been involved in the winery’s past seven vintages. In partnership with Anthony Road Wine Company, Bravery Wines will also be sold on premises at the tasting room located in Penn Yan in Yates County.

“Jennifer and I were married at Anthony Road Wine Company on Veterans Day in 2017, so when we started our brand, we wanted to partner with the Martini family and Peter Becraft,” said Christman.

Bravery Wines will also be available for purchase online and can be shipped to 37 U.S. states. Every purchase from Bravery Wines will result in a contribution of at least $2 per bottle to the fund that supports injured service members and their families.

“We’re honored to partner with the Yellow Ribbon Fund, one of the first veteran service organizations that focus on helping severely wounded, ill and injured post-9/11 service members of all U.S. military branches. With a mission to keep families together, the fund provides housing, transportation and other family support services,” said Jennifer Christman.

On Veterans Day, Bravery Wines “celebrated the hero in you” with four new varieties. The newly released wines are handcrafted in New York and made from Martini Vineyard grapes. Those new wines include:

• 2017 Cabernet Franc: a fruit forward wine with beautiful hints of cherry, pepper and lightly oaked.

• 2019 Riesling: a powerhouse off-dry wine with hints of citrus, tangerine, green apple with balanced acidity and residual sugar.

• White blend: a Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris white blend considered dry to off-dry but not semi-dry. This wine is fantastic with or without food and an exceptional option for those wanting a white wine with great balance.

• 2019 Vignoles: a Martini Vineyards varietal grown for over 25 years, this wine possesses great balance between acidity and residual sugar. Citrus, honey and a hint of orange are just a few of the mouthwatering flavors tasters will experience. The wine is considered semi-dry to semi-sweet.

To purchase Bravery Wines, visit the online store at
https://vinoshipper.com/shop/bravery_wines?list=. New York residents may call the winery directly to order, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 315-536-2182.

About Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF)

Yellow Ribbon Fund was founded in 2005 to serve the wounded coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, its mission is to provide practical support for wounded, ill and injured service members and their caregivers. YRF staff recognize the importance of keeping families together during the critical recuperation phase, because the presence of family and friends accelerates recovery and rehabilitation and makes for a successful transition back to civilian life. The YRF provides two critical programs: The Crossroads Program (Housing and Transportation) and the Keystone Program (Family + Caregiver Support Services).

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