Jimi, my brother and our founder, developed his passion for making wine in the Beaujolais region of France from 1990-1995. I always knew that his time there was extremely important to him, but had no context, local color, or stories to share. After his passing, for whatever reason, I was unable to reach out to the family for which he worked. So, I put it on the back burner, thinking of it often, but never actually acting on it. Sometimes procrastination is a blessing in disguise, and so it was this past March with Pascal, Jimi’s son and my nephew.
To give a bit more background, after graduating from Linfield College with a communications degree in 1989, Jimi had no plan. He bought a one way ticket to Europe. He traveled and would take whatever job he could get to fund his next travel experience. He was connected with one such job, working for Domaine Dechamps in Beaujolais by my cousin, Linda, who lives in Lyon. A mutual friend of Linda’s at the winery knew they were looking for harvest interns and Jimi applied. He was accepted and returned there for 4 additional harvests.
The Dechamps family was important to him. I knew our corporate name, The Morne Wine Company, had a connection to his time in France. I knew that Pascal was named after a friend he met while working harvest. I knew his experience was meaningful enough for him to return for so many vintages and to pursue winemaking when he returned to Oregon in 1996.
In early 2018, a friend of mine found out that the winery and family were still there in Beaujolais. The pot that was on the back burner suddenly moved to the front. Add in that Pascal had recently moved to France and there was no longer any excuse to continue to procrastinate. In fact, it seemed like yet another lesson from Jimi to grab life by the horns and make some memories while you’re still alive and kicking.
Before Pascal left for France, he asked if he could take a bottle of the 2003 vintage (Brooks) that Jimi made because he planned to go visit the Dechamps family at some point. Coincidentally, I had a European business trip planned for March. A phone call and a few text messages later, Pascal and I made a “plan” to go visit the Dechamps family together.
The plan was to make a reservation at the winery, show up, and see if anybody there remembered Jimi. I picked up the phone and called. This is where I quickly realized that my inability to speak French might be an issue as the person who answered the phone asked if I spoke French, and upon saying “no,” quickly hung up on me. Pascal and I had a friend of his call them back. She was able to make an appointment for 10am, Thursday, March 21st.
After meeting up with Pascal in Paris, we headed out with no expectations for our visit. After all, they hadn’t heard from Jimi for 20 years. Maybe they wouldn’t remember him well? And maybe not at all? They had many interns over the year. A lot had changed since 1995.
The son, Phillipe, (close to Jimi’s age) had taken the role of winemaker from the father. Maria, who also worked harvest with Jimi, was Phillipe’s wife. They ran the winery and tasting room after building a house on the father’s property. We arrived and met the wife, who only spoke French. Luckily Pascal knew enough French to have a conversation. It was very hard to gauge her connection to Jimi as she was fairly stoic. Plus, as you may recall, I don’t speak French, so I couldn’t understand one word of the conversation.
Phillipe arrived and things quickly warmed up. We tasted a few wines while Pascal shared that Jimi had passed away, the story of his winery and where Brooks Winery is today. Pascal took out his phone and shared photos from Jimi working harvest with him. Philipe went and grabbed an envelope full of harvest photos, many of which included Jimi. Mind you it has been 20 years and the photos were that accessible! They began to share stories as they thumbed through the photos.
Pascal soon mentioned that he was named after someone Jimi worked harvest with and inquired if Philipe knew how to reach him. Turns out, “French Pascal” is the brother of Philipe’s wife, Maria! Philipe got on the phone to “French Pascal” and invited him over.
While we waited for him to arrive, we walked up to the parents house, which is also where the winery is and where Jimi worked. We got a tour of where Jimi slept, ate and worked. We got to meet the father who sat with us on our deck for a glass of rosé. Pascal pulled a letter out of his pocket that was written by the father and mailed to Pascal’s mom, Bozena, who worked harvest with Jimi in 1994. The look on the father’s face to see his handwriting and the words he wrote to Bozena was priceless. (Remember, I could not understand any of the conversation, but I could read the emotions on the faces!)
Shortly, “French Pascal” arrived. He was told of the tragedy of Jimi’s passing. You could sense the sadness across all of them. Philipe then went on to tell him that Jimi’s son was named after him. The joy on his face was priceless. He had no idea that Jimi had named his son after him and couldn’t believe he was meeting him. Pascal got to meet his namesake! It was a happy moment for all.
Remember that earlier mention of our corporate name, “The Morne Wine Company,” having something to do with Jimi’s time there? Mystery solved. Turns out that is their street—Jimi named his company after their street!
By the end of the 3 hour visit, we had developed a unique bond and created a lifelong memory. We gave them the bottle of wine from 2003 that Pascal had brought to France, Jimi’s last vintage. They gave us a bottle of 1995, Jimi’s last vintage working in Beaujolais with them. They extended an invitation for Pascal to work harvest. I am considering bringing their wine to sell in our tasting room.
Sometimes I wonder if Jimi orchestrated this visit, yet knew to wait long enough until Pascal was on his own, forging his own path. It answered a lot of questions for all of us and provided that context and imagery that we had been lacking. It was a beautiful moment in our lives and one we will treasure for ever.
49 comments on “When Pascal met Pascal”
Janie, we loved this story!!!!
Sara and Kenny
This moved me to tears! Thank you for sharing.
That is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing.
Janie, what a beautiful story and now, a beautiful memory. Patricia (Pat) Phillips
What an incredible story! I met Janie years ago at IPNC and Pascal this past Fall during harvest (thanks again Chris!). Both are incredibly welcoming and humble.
Janie – I can relate a bit as my wife lived in Dijon and years ago we went back to meet her host family. Not being able to speak French, I too experienced expressions, emotions and bonding over a glass of wine. That is what it is really all about. Inspired me to take up the hobby of wine making.
Thanks for sharing!
Beautiful story. Can’t wait to taste some of their wines in the tasting room.
Beautiful story. I have forwarded it to others with whom I have shared your delightful wines.
What a beautiful sorry and special time. Love these types of connections. Cheers!
What a great story and adventure.
Holly and John
Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story! It made me cry but it was wonderful to hear how things have come full circle.
Thanks for sharing the heart ❤️ of your beautiful
winery with us all!
Thank you for making the trip when you did AND for sharing the priceless details!!
Thank you for sharing! What an amazing story and it too brought tears to my eyes.
Wonderful ! I only wish all of you, including Jimi, could have been there together! But I do believe he had a hand in this. ❤️ ~ Stove
This is one more great story having a connection to Brooks Winery. I have enjoyed the stories of Jimi, Pascal and Janie and the history of Brooks Winery. Thank you!
What an amazing story! So glad you and Pascal got to visit and had this incredible experience. ????
Amazing tale! There’s a reason why Brooks (and the Morne Co.) stand out above the others. It’s the land, it’s the grapes, it’s the winery, but especially it’s the people.
We first came across Brooks at an IPNC, held, of course, at Linfield College. It was fascinating that Jimi was a Linfield graduate, not in viticulture, but communications! Thanks again for a delightful family saga.
Just a beautiful story! Angels direct us in ways beyond explanation. Everything happens for a reason and we are put in places that are meant to be.
With warmest aloha????
Linda J Pooleon
Absolutely beautiful story, thank you for sharing.
What a great story
What a beautiful story Janie, thanks for sharing.
Wow, what an amazing story. I do believe Jimi had a hand in all of this. It tugs at my heart strings. I look forward to more wonderful stories to come. Thanks to both of you for sharing.
This is a story filled with tears , humor and just plain goodness! Thank you fir sharing! It’s is an honor and privilege to be a wine club member at Brooks. Maybe tours to France?
John and Beverly
What a beautiful and moving story, which deepens our already strong ties and sense of belonging to Brooks Winery. Thank you so much for sharing.
Incredible story. Brought me to tears. That bottle is more precious than money can buy. Hold on to it.
Thank you for sharing the “Brooks” story in such a beautiful way! It comes full circle from the times I spent with your Dad and Mom as well as you and Jimi and his mom. There will be a soft spot in the hearts of many of your friends from the memories your narrative recalls, especially mine.
Best to you and Paco.
Wow Janie, what a story!! Thanks for sharing!
Love this so much! I love how Jimi’s story continues to unfold… amazing! When I read this I couldn’t help but remember Jimi’s warm and inscrutable smile. Thanks!
Tom and Lorre Spelman
Thank you Janie for sharing your heart warming and wonderful story. It is amazing how it came to be and Jimi truly did have a part in all of these memories coming together! We really appreciate the Brooks Family and love being a wine club member.
Quite an amazing story & trip to France, to become aquainted with Jimi’s past experiences & what led him eventually into the winemaking arena. Had to be quite a connection for Pascal, to be able to connect the past with present. Just out of curiosity, what happened to Bozena?
Great story and love your wines. Having some tonight. Thanks for sharing.
I LOVE this story! Jimi’s, and now Pascal’s, stories entwined in a magical way. It is why I enjoy and admire the “Brooks family” and wine so much.
Thank you for sharing. A journey worth doing to bring a past friendship to the present and answer so many questions for your family and those who love Brooks wine! A great story!
And that is how you create a memorable moment, reaching out to those in touch with loved ones, even in the past. People remember people that made them laugh, cry or both … shared experiences, labor, passions and dreams. Such a wonderful chapter in the Brooks Wine log.
What an amazing opportunity to bring it all full circle. Love your passion and ability to make it always happen.
A great story and wonderful that you both got to go! Janie, if you need a translator going with you anytime, let me know! Je parle francais!
Great story Janie. I am sure the experience of the trip was fantastic to both you and Pascal.
What a lovely story. I am weeping. Life is incredibly interesting with all of the twists and turns.Thank you for sharing this!
Ashlee Mae Beckett
Thank you so much for sharing this with us! As Pascal’s 6th grade teacher I LOVE hearing about how he is doing and I’m thrilled to read of this special experience for you and your family! Lots of love to you all!
This is wonderful, thank you for sharing Janie!
What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing in such a manner that we could imagine how very special the trip was and admire the legacy of the vineyard and what inspired Jimi in the first place!
Awesome! I love it.
Very nice story. Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing, Janie!
I remember seeing Jimi’s story on Strange Inheritances and often wondered what Pascal looks like now. Was so happy this meeting happened and how it must have felt for everyone to meet. I buy your wines off and on as we aren’t heavy wine drinkers. Takes us a while just to finish one bottle!! But yours is always good!!! Loved reading this.
What a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing. The only other Pascal that I have known was a favorite uncle of mine; although, he used a different spelling, Paschal. I have always enjoyed hearing about Pascal.
That is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. What a small amazing world we live in. Seems to be even more so in the wine world.
Beautifully written Janie! Thank you for sharing with all of us!!!
Janie, your story truly reflects the Brooks family. Being in Chandler Arizona we don’t get up to Oregon often enough. My spouse being a Sun Devil alumni and myself retired from ASU library archives. We can relate how much your thought of down in Tempe. Your nephew is a well grounded young man. Give my best to Heather!
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