Dear Friends:

Time seems to be going faster and faster as we are all starting to reopen. Please error on the side of caution. The safer we are, the more successful we will all be. Brooks will be opening up by reservation only on June 1. A separate email will go out to share the plan.

Ara Riesling aka The Obama Wine (Part 1)

In November of 2009, I arrived in Oregon and received a phone call from my friend, Lucas Henning in Chicago, letting me know he was purchasing wine for an event in Washington DC for 350 people. He wanted to pour the Ara Riesling and wondered if he should serve the 2006 or 2007 vintage. For those of you that know vintages in Oregon, those two were very different. 2006 was warm and the fruit was very ripe. 2007 was cold and the wines had high acid and were more austere. Since this was a large group, I recommended 2006–a little bit rounder and a bit more crowd friendly.

The next day, I sat in a Board Meeting for Oregon Pinot Camp. I was a newbie on the Board and was surrounded by the icons in Oregon Wine. My phone kept ringing, luckily it was muted. At a break, I checked my email and about fell out of my seat. Well, I really wanted to scream. The White House Head Usher had emailed me wanting the 2006 Ara for a private event the following week. Hah! That is the event Lucas was calling about! I left the meeting and sent 5 cases of the 2006 Ara to Washington DC.

The event being held was the first State Dinner that President Obama hosted. It was honoring the Prime Minister of India. We were not strangers to the White House. A wine Jimi made had been poured at a State Dinner a month after he passed away. A huge honor although I did not see a lot of measurable results from it. So while VERY honored to have the Ara poured, I was not anticipating hearing much about it. BUT as i mentioned, it was President Obama’s FIRST State Dinner–so the day of the event, the guest list and menu were “unveiled”.

It was the week of Thanksgiving. I had finished a luncheon where I was trying to raise money for my kids school from student’s Grandparents. I got in my car and checked my phone as I usually do. I had over 20 voicemails….radio stations, media etc. And poor Heather, our Director of Wine Club Happiness. She was innocently mopping the floor at our old winery to get ready for the big Thanksgiving open house weekend and the local TV stations were knocking on the door. This little family winery in Oregon was having their Riesling poured at President Obama’s first State Dinner!

Over the next six weeks, we were on all local major TV stations and CNN in airports on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend (busiest travel day of the year). We sold through the remaining 2006 and half of the 2007 vintage in six weeks!

While many of you may not remember President Obama’s first State Dinner, you will likely remember the winery owning couple from Virginia that party crashed a State dinner?? Same one! So they had the 2006 Ara Riesling! More on them and the White House next week!


This Week’s Somm Wine

Everyone always asks how we got our wine at that dinner. I mentioned to you it was my friend Lucas Henning who made it happen. At the time, he was the sommelier for Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant in Chicago. Marcus asked Lucas to select the wines. Lucas set out to include small, family owned wineries in lesser known regions. Lucas picked Brooks!

And lucky for all of us, Lucas has been one of the sommeliers since we began our blending series. He is the Proprietor of Graft, a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Chris and I have both done events at Graft and it is an incredible experience!

In continuation of our launch from last week, we are adding the Homage Pinot Noir, crafted by Lucas at Brooks, to the somm wines for a good cause. Lucas has selected two non profits to donate his proceeds to: the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) and the US Sommelier Foundation. The IRC is lobbying to get stimulus funding for the 11 million people in the restaurant industry that are unemployed due to Covid 19. The US Sommelier Foundation is awarding funds to sommeliers who are in crisis and are applying for help. Lucas is supporting both his livelihoods–restaurants and sommeliers! Please help us support him and these great causes.

Approximately 50% of the purchase price from all somm wines will go to their designated non profits. And a big THANK YOU–the Storyteller Wine sold out in 4.5 days raising over $5K for the Oregon Chapter of the World Central Kitchen.

somm collection wines

Friends Support Friends

Recently, I was introduced to the proprietors of LifeTime Vintage. The founding concept of their company was to be the “go to” wine registry for weddings. As you can imagine, that business has disappeared in the near term as weddings are not taking place. They were quick to respond and have added a portfolio of great new wine related products. I am excited to share that Brooks will be featured in their next Read & Sip event. Three of our wines will be bundled with the book Leadership and Life Hacks, written by, my friend, Alyssa Rapp. Alyssa is a force of nature. She is currently the CEO for Surgical Solutions, a Lecturer in Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and University of Chicago’s Booth Business School, a wife and a mother of 2 young children. No wonder she has found hacks for leadership and life!

On June 20th at 4pm EST/1pm PST, there will be a Zoom conversation with Alyssa, myself and the team at LifeTime Vintage. The three wines, the book, and the Zoom invitation ship for $99. Order your book and wines now so you have time to read it! I hope you will join us!

read & sip

Feeling Productive

It is a good feeling to be building towards re-opening, helping non profits that are helping others and finding new collaborations like LifeTime Vintages. As I mentioned weeks back, there are Silver Linings. Please be slow and thoughtful about your re-entry to community places. I want the best health for you all.

I cannot thank you enough for reading, reaching out, supporting, and just being there for us during this time. I am here! [email protected] Cell 831-238-4828.

Be well all-