Fall is in the air for sure! I hope this finds everyone safe and healthy.
As we are wrapping up harvest 2020, I wanted to share with you decisions we have made this year as well as October’s Perfect Pairing and some great news about a few of the Rieslings at Brooks. All of this news feels like we are nestling into the Fall season.
As many of you are aware, there were devastating fires in Oregon in September. While much information has been gathered regarding the impact of these fires on the 2020 harvest for the Willamette Valley, there is still much to learn. Every winery and grower must make the best choices for their business and their customers. I cannot speak for others, I can only speak for Brooks. I want to share with you the difficult decision we have had to make this year.
Brooks will not be releasing a 2020 vintage.
When COVID-19 hit, we realized that what makes Brooks resilient is our ability to be nimble and make decisions quickly, our relationships, our commitment to our legacy, excellent quality across our broad portfolio of wines, accessible price points, transparent communication, and the focus on our social and environmental commitments. Harvest 2020 has required me to lean into these ideals once again.
In mid-September, we were told by researchers and experts that the Willamette Valley was considered a high impact area for smoke damage to our grapes, especially our Pinot Noir. While there are tests for this, labs were already under pressure from California wineries and were experiencing a 40-60 day backlog. We simply could not have had our grapes tested prior to our harvest dates.
Our Estate vineyard comprises 20% of our production and we contract with over 25 other growers to produce our wines across nearly 60 labels. Our Estate has crop insurance for smoke impact, however in early discussions with our growers, I discovered that the vast majority of them did not. Smoke impact is risky business as it rears its head from fermentation to even years later in bottle. Relying on the advice of experts who have studied smoke impact and winemakers who have dealt with this many times, I made the hard decision that Brooks could not make a 2020 vintage and stay true to our values. Our dedication to the quality of our wine, our adherence to biodynamic principles, and our commitments to our family of growers were paramount in this decision.
What does this mean? It means we only have vintages up through 2019 for sale until we have wines from 2021. The beauty of Brooks is that we hold over wines and release them at their best possible moment. We also have labels that are just for distribution versus our direct customers. We have plenty of wine in barrel and bottle to keep our tasting room full and our wine club and e-commerce customers happy without the 2020 vintage. No worries.
Introducing the Grower Relief Fund (GRF)
From now until June 30th, we have committed to REVENUE SHARING a portion of bottle sales with our growers of any vintage of their single vineyard wines sold direct to consumer (from our website or in the tasting room). Our commitments range, but in every case I am happy to report that we have retained all of our grower contracts for 2021 and beyond.
You can support this initiative through purchasing wines with this logo (GRF) as shown below.
This decision has been excruciatingly painful for so many, including our team. We have all shed many tears. Who would have thought we would have experienced a unique weather event that hasn’t happened since 1933 that pushed and suppressed the smoke into our beautiful valley?
How is our production team, Chris, Claire, Darrick and Tom? They are staying busy. We decided to focus on some experiments with a few fruit sources so that we can demonstrate the effectiveness of certain winemaking techniques utilized to mitigate the impact of smoke. Hopefully it will be helpful for future experiences dealing with smoke.
For the past few weeks, we have been talking about voting with your dollars. Now you are directly helping our growers when you purchase Brooks wines that are designated with the GRF logo.
Lamb Chops Anyone?
Every month, Executive Chef Norma makes a Perfect Pairing. This month it is seared lamb chops over butternut squash puree with roasted baby bok-choy and chanterelle mushrooms and mint sauce. We film Chef Norma crafting her pairing each month and include the recipe so you can enjoy it at home if you cannot make it to the tasting room.
I will be in Oregon next week and lamb is my favorite. I wonder how many times I will order this?!
The November and December Beyond Brooks Are Selling Fast!
The upcoming Beyond Brooks events are going to be a great treat. During my upcoming trip to Oregon, I will be visiting Hiyu Wine Farm/Floréal Cider and Rogue Creamery.
Cider is one of the hottest beverages in the national market and Nate Ready crafts one of the best. Floréal Cider is very limited in production which is one of the many reasons we are partnering with them so that you can have access.
Rogue Creamery won the top blue cheese in the world in 2019. We will be tasting 3 of their cheeses along side two of our wines for this event.
LOVE FOR OUR RIESLING & THE NEW VINTAGE OF SPARKLING
As you all know, we are CRAZY about Riesling at Brooks and we love it when the critics agree! Just out in the December issue, the 2018 Ara Riesling (part of the GRF) received 94 points and the 2018 Estate Riesling received 92 points from Wine Enthusiast (both of these Rieslings are dry). These are some of the highest ratings for domestic Rieslings. Thank you to the Wine Enthusiast!
Next week, just in time for the holidays, we will be releasing our new vintage of Sparkling Riesling. We only made 400 six packs of this wine!
Our wine club members will receive an email this week offering early access to the 2016 Sparkling Riesling (3 weeks before it will be available to the general public).
Being a wine club member is the best way to ensure you get access to certain small production wines (and yes, this wine too is part of the GRF). Not a Club Member?
I am sure many of you have more questions and I am happy to answer them. I have learned a lot over the last 6 weeks. My commitment to you is all I have said above and more.
I appreciate you and all of your support. We promise to live up to why you love us.
Please reach out: [email protected] or my cell 831-238-4828.