(written by Janie Brooks Heuck, July 2014)
A little less than two years ago, I was approached by a film company called Three Crows Media. They were filming a movie called “American Wine Story” about why people leave their day jobs to risk following their dreams by entering the wine industry and over the course of interviewing many winemakers and growers, they kept hearing about the story of Jimi Brooks. After meeting with them and hearing their plans, I said that we would be willing to participate.
Since then, Pascal, Chris, my husband, David, and I have been interviewed many times. The crew even came down to Pebble Beach to see “the other side” of my life. They’ve been up to Oregon to get footage of harvest, bottling and the vineyard, and when they asked if there were others to interview about our story, we sent them to our extended Oregon wine “family”. They collected photos and videos along with the memories, and were immersed in the influence Jimi’s life has had in the Oregon wine world
Knowing there were many other stories around the country they wanted to capture, I wasn’t quite sure how the Brooks story would be told and to what extent. About three months ago, I was sent the following trailer: Click here to watch. If the trailer was any indication, it looked as if our story would be featured prominently in the movie.
Early last November while I was in Oregon, the film producers asked if I was available for a screening at a theater in Salem. “Sure” I said, so off Heather, Chris and I went to watch a rough cut of “American Wine Story” on a Friday morning.
From the opening scene I was speechless…..the first person that you hear and see is Pascal. He and I are the opening moments of the movie before it moves to other winemakers. As I continued to watch, I slowly overcame my initial shock and loved hearing the stories of so many others and what led them to follow their dreams. The stories were heartfelt and inspiring for sure.
A new scene started and it was an introduction to my brother, Jimi, and how he found his way to the wine industry. For the next half hour, the movie was completely focused on Jimi and the story of Brooks. I was quickly reminded that in true “Janie fashion”, I had laid my heart out before the camera. It was all so honest and so very personal and so very in-the-moment; I felt very exposed watching this on a screen. And it wasn’t just me who spoke from the heart with love, honesty, and sadness for my brother and our journey, but so did Pascal, along with Jimi’s closest friends and colleagues. It made me cry.
I’ve now had a little time to process my thoughts and emotions about the film, and it’s clear that American Wine Story is the most amazing tribute to my brother and his legacy that we will probably ever know. It is honest, it is direct, and it is beautifully done!
Three Crows Media has begun pursuing ways bring their film to a broader audience. Rough cuts have been submitted to Film Festivals across the United States and the film’s producers are actively seeking distribution. The film is now in its final editing stages and a kickstarter campaign was started today to complete the film (a link can be found here). We hope you will consider supporting this film as I would love my brother’s story to be told far and wide, so perhaps his legacy will continue to inspire others who want to make a change in their lives. And please know, Brooks has no financial interest in the film itself.
Brooks is already working on hosting screenings of this film throughout the country later once it’s finished, and we hope you will join us. And if you’re not nearby one of our viewing party locations, at some point down the road, it will be available on DVD to watch in the comfort of your own home, ideally with friends and with a glass of Brooks wine in your hand.
Regardless of its ultimate destiny, “American Wine Story” will always be a part of our family and our winery. Close to TEN years after Jimi’s passing, his story is still being told and is influencing others. It’s a remarkable story and this movie gives a good look at just what a remarkable person Jimi Brooks was.