Somedays We All Want to Run Away


4 minutes reading

Dear Friends,

Alas, we cannot run now, we are mandated to do the opposite.  I hope this finds you all doing as well as possible and healthy during this time.

Every once in a while I have a Jimi connection.  On occasion, I meet someone that knew him, I hear a story about him or I walk in places he  walked.  Recently, I had one of these moments with our Runaway Red Pinot Noir, the kind of moment that reinforces my gratitude and sense of community.  Right now, this wine holds a very special place in my heart as it is a work horse across the country supporting our distributors, their sales reps, our retail partners and in a few cases, restaurants.  One distributor said “It might just be what keeps our lights on”.  This fills my heart.  I thought I’d take this chance to share with you the story of how Runaway Red came to be.

The Story of the Runaway Red Pinot Noir

During the 1999 vintage, Jimi was determined to make a hand crafted Pinot Noir at an entry level price.  He was the assistant winemaker at WillaKenzie at the time and would do his Brooks work late at night.  On one of those nights, Jimi was bringing two barrels of his wine on the forklift from the upper production area to the barrel room below.  Part way down the driveway, one of the barrels rolled off its rack and into the darkness, followed by a crack and a splash.  Jimi was pretty bummed figuring he just lost one of his six barrels of Pinot.

He and a coworker grabbed a flashlight and headed down the hill into the dark. Upon getting to the bottom, they found the barrel was still fully intact.  It rolled off perfectly to punch the bung in nice and tight. It made it down the hill…through a fence..and splashed into a small creek. With a little muscle they moved it out of the water and the next day brought a tractor down and loaded the barrel into the bucket to bring it back to the barrel room. Later that day Ann Williams, a friend and coworker, put a label on the front of the barrel that said “Runaway Red”. Jimi hadn’t created a label yet for this wine but liked that name.

Jimi was an avid reader of history from around the world.  He decided to use the name Runaway Red and as a pun and decided to put Leon Trotsky’s picture on the label since he was a runaway red.  Trotsky was expelled from Russia in 1929 and fled to Mexico City where he eventually was assassinated at his home.  In July of 2004, Jimi visited his home.  In January of 2020, I visited his home.  It is a wonderful museum and so meaningful to me to help me better understand what Jimi knew about this part of history.  I love walking where Jimi did.

Jimi at Trotsky's headstone in 2004 - Janie visiting in 2020
Jimi at Trotsky’s headstone in 2004 – Janie visiting in 2020

The label has plenty of symbolism to tell the story.  Trotsky was killed with a pickaxe.  Jimi put an ice pick on the label since it is easier to recognize.  On the back label you see the barrel rolling down the hill.   Peace.  Bread.  Land.  were the battle cry during the 1917 Revolution in Russia.   Jimi added “wine”.  Today, those four words represent out commitments.  You can read more about these here:

This past week and what is up next

The weeks seem to be getting busier.  Everyone is doing meetings on Zoom which has been nice to see so many faces.  I spent a good amount of my time navigating the applications for the financial relief opportunities from the Government.  Most important to me during this time is to take care of as many of our team as financially possible.  The Payroll Protection Plan was created for that purpose and I am proud to say our application is in!

Pascal has been hard at work preparing information to share with you.  Next week, this letter will be from him while he shares his days in Paris, his pantry challenge, what he is reading and what he is listening to.

Be safe, stay well.  Please do reach out if there is anything we can do.  My cell is 831-238-4828 and my email is



2 comments on “Somedays We All Want to Run Away”

  1. Chris Priest

    EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! Great insight to how simple, yet profound, a brand is conjured.

    1. Janie Brooks Heuck

      Thanks Chris! I hope you are doing well and are safe and healthy!

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