Our Story

Meet Our Team

Sebastian and Erika Degens, Founders

Husband-and-wife team Sebastian and Erika Degens are the founders of Stone Barn Brandyworks. Sebastian spent much of his childhood in Germany, and developed a palate for fruit brandy in Hamburg as a teenager. Erika grew up in the countryside of upstate New York, oblivious to the delights of alcohol but already well down the rabbit hole of fruit and berry connoisseurship. Erika and Sebastian first discovered Portland on a road trip north from California, and landed here to stay on a cold November day in 1980. They quickly joined the Mycological Society and began foraging for chanterelles. This delight in Pacific Northwest abundance soon expanded into fruit, vegetables, and home canning chutneys, jams, and preserves.. These early experiences have become a lifelong appreciation for the remarkable bounty of the Pacific Northwest, and are reflected in the business they began together.

Andy Garrison, Head Distiller

Originally from Chicago, Andy Garrison has been Stone Barn’s lead distiller since 2012. His insatiable appetite for technical white papers and cooperage conference proceedings keeps the ideas flowing, especially when it comes to Stone Barn’s whiskey program. Inspired by global spirits traditions, Andy loves a good project, whether that’s malting corn on his basement floor, fermenting koji-innoculated winter squash, or smoking his own malted wheat using decommissioned barrel staves.

Hester Schell, Tasting Room Hostess

Hester Schell is a published author and retired college professor of film and theatre who got her start in the fine art of fruit brandies, liqueurs and spirits here at Stone Barn Brandyworks in 2015. After a year with Clear Creek Distillery, learning more about local fruit and whiskys, she’s delighted to be back at SBB’s tasting room.  She is apprentice bartender to proprietor Sebastian Degens and enjoys developing original recipes with our grappas. Hester encourages brandy and liqueur connoisseurs to experiment with our products in the kitchen. “Try caramelizing onions in our quince liqueur. Your burger experience will forever be changed.”

Mary DiPrete, At Farmer’s Markets

Mary DiPrete was born and raised in the Eola Hills wine country. In addition to her work at Stone Barn, she serves as an arts teacher and works in conjunction with Portland Public Schools. In her off hours she writes literary criticism and poetry. She enjoys hiking, bookmaking, and a good cocktail.

Mathilde Petitqueux, Marketing Assistant

Mathilde Petitqueux joins the Stone Barn team as an intern and will be with us til August. She has been studying the field of wines and spirits for three years. She has investigated the wines of Champagne, traveled the wine roads of France, and after Portland she will continue her studies in one of the oldest vineyard regions in France:  Burgundy.

Mathilde joins Stone Barn to learn the business of distilling and assist with outreach and marketing, as well as enjoy the fruits and activities of an Oregon spring and summer.