By Tanya Henry
“I had no idea when I started out in the wine business that I would become a ‘pinot guy,’ explains Garry Brooks, who, along with his wife Joanne, founded the Novato-based Brooks Note Winery in 2011.
It all started in 2002 when Brooks planted a small vineyard at his sister-in-law’s home in southern Sonoma Valley. Living in San Francisco and working in tech, Brooks began eagerly awaiting the weekends when he could head north and tend to his growing vines.
Eventually Brooks and his wife moved to Mill Valley from San Francisco. By this time Brooks had decided to pursue his interest in wine full-time, but he knew that he needed to learn more. Fortuitously, he signed up for a chemistry class at College of Marin, and it just so happened that one of his classmates worked at Ravenswood, and the winery had an opening for an internship.
The internship turned into a part-time job, and a degree in enology and viticulture from UC Davis followed. After stints at both Acacia and Kosta Browne wineries, Brooks began gravitating toward Pinot Noir. “There are other bigger wines—but there can be so much going on with Pinot Noirs—and when they are paired with food, they become something even more,” Brooks says.
It would take another few years for Brooks to develop relationships with Marin grape growers and winemakers including Mark Pasternak and Dan Goldfield, who introduced him to both the Azaya Ranch Vineyard and Chileno Valley Vineyard; Brooks now sources his own grapes from there for his Marin County Pinot Noirs.
Along with an even smaller production of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc (grapes come from outside of Marin) Brooks Note has produced up to 350 cases of their Marin County Pinot Noir. They currently rent production space from Trek Winery in Novato and sell their wines both online and in local retailers, including Good Earth Natural Foods and Mill Valley Market. The small-production wines can also be found on local restaurant menus at places like Olema’s Sir & Star, Vasco and Farmshop.
To learn more, visit brooks-note-winery.myshopify.com.