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March 14, 2019
Janie Brooks Heuck; Biodynamics, Giving Back, and the Future of Oregon Riesling
Brooks Wines in Amity, Oregon is the living legacy of Jimi Brooks - a Portland native who fell in love with winemaking while working a harvest in Beaujolais, eventually making his way back to the Pacific Northwest to start his own project. With a reverence for the land and vines, Jimi became a path-breaker in biodynamic and organic viticulture, showing the excellence of terroir in Oregon’s Pinot Noir and Riesling production. When Jimi suddenly passed away in 2004, he left behind Brooks to his young son Pascal, who is now the sole owner of the winery, and his sister Janie Brooks Heuck, who has since volunteered to manage Brooks Wines while Pascal finishes school.
Having graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in accounting, Janie had no intention of working in the wine industry. After receiving her degree, Janie spent the following decade building a career within the healthcare industry, a trajectory that was suddenly changed upon her brother’s death. Galvanized by keeping the spirit of his legacy alive, Janie quickly assumed responsibility for the business operations of Brooks. Over the following years, Janie involved herself within the greater Oregon vintner community, learning as much as she could about the business of making and selling wine.
Despite a lack of tenure in the field, as the General Manager, Janie has continued to successfully keep the spirit of Brooks in line with Jimi’s vision, while also meeting new market demands. Still sourcing some of their fruit from original vineyards, along with staying close with original winemaking styles, Brook’s Wines has expanded production from 2,500 cases in 2004 to more than 12,000 today. Janie and Pascal have also sought to maintain the winery’s emphasis on sustainable agriculture.
Brooks was awarded official Biodynamic certification from Demeter in 2008, and belongs to the Deep Roots Coalition in Oregon, which supports sourcing from only dry farmed vineyard sites. This past January, Brooks announced their partnership with 1% For The Planet, donating 1% of their gross profit to a qualifying not for profit.
Both Pascal and Janie remain steadily guided by the legacies that Jimi left: his strong commitment to organic and biodynamic farming in the vineyards, gentle approach to winemaking, excitement for future harvests and endlessly promoting how beautifully Pinot Noir and Riesling can be grown and produced in Oregon.
More from Brooks:
Brooks 2015 Sparkling Riesling
Brooks 2017 Pinot Blanc
Brooks 2017 Estate Pinot Gris
Brooks 2014 ‘Ara’ Riesling
Brooks 2016 Riesling
Brooks 2017 ‘Amycas’ White Blend
Brooks 2017 Pinot Noir Rose
Brooks 2015 ‘Janus’ Pinot Noir
Brooks 2015 ‘Rastaban’ Estate Pinot Noir
Brooks 2017 ‘Runaway Red’ Pinot Noir
Brooks 2017 Pinot Noir
Brooks 2016 ‘Sweet P’ Estate Riesling
Brooks (375ml) 2015 ‘Tethys’ Late Harvest Riesling