John Haeger at Brooks Winery (Amity, OR) 11-12 November 2017

From the outset in 1998, Jimi Brooks (1968-2004) focused his young namesake winery on Riesling and Pinot Noir, and the winery has remained true to his founding vision.  While Pinot has since become Oregon’s signature variety, covering more vineyard surface than any other, and anchoring the portfolios of most Willamette Valley producers, and Brooks does well with it, Brooks also stands out for its equally serious commitment to Riesling, the multitude of Riesling lots fermented here each year, the sheer number of its vineyard-designated Rieslings, and the brand’s full-spectrum coverage of Riesling’s panoply of styles.  On 12 and 13 November 2017, John Haeger joined the winery’s managing director (Jimi’s sister) Janie Brooks Heuck, winery chef Abby McManigle, assistant winemaker Claire Jarreau, and other members of the Brooks team, for a tasting-seminar built around four Brooks Rieslings and four Rieslings from (variously) Germany, Austria and Alsace.  The idea was to contrast the variety’s ability to create recognizable similarity across wines from many regions with the infinite differentiation that site-specificity and winemaking choices involve, making each of the eight wines unique.  The wines — all dry — were tasted in pairs of two, each European Riesling paired with a different Brooks Riesling, the experience further enhanced with tasty tidbits conceived and prepared by Chef McManigle.  The wine list for the tasting-seminar follows:


Riesling Tasting with John Haeger


[Germany] Nahe Riesling “Tonschiefer” 2015 (Helmut Dönnhoff)

Eola Hills Orchards Fold Riesling 2014 (Brooks)

[Austria] Kremstal Riesling “Dornleiten” 2015 (Martin Nigl)

Willamette Valley Riesling 2016 (Brooks)


[Austria] Wachau Liebenberg Riesling Smaragd 2015 (Leo Alzinger)

Eola-Amity Hills Riesling Brooks Estate Vineyard 2015 (Brooks)

[France] Alsace Riesling Grand Cru Muenchberg 2014 (André Ostertag)

Eola-Amity Hills Riesling Muska Vineyard 2014


The tasting-seminar was embedded in a bustling weekend of activitites in the winery’s large and scenic tasting room overlooking the Willamette River and west slope of the Cascades, enjoyed by members of Brooks wine clubs, and guests.  Brooks wines were featured throughout, but so were olive oils, vinegars, honey, charcuterie and chocolate from farm and artisan friends and neighbors.  For readers there was also Riesling Rediscovered, or course, but also Vintage, a “wine thriller”  by David Baker, the writer and director of American Wine Story, an acclaimed documentary film featuring — what else? — the Brooks story.   For more about Baker’s book, see

Readers interested in signed copies of Riesling Rediscovered should contact the tasting room at 503-435-1278; such copies may remain available into the December holidays.  Gift bags in which the book is offered with two bottles of Brooks Rieslings are also on offer while supplies last.