winemaker gary brookmanThe route to becoming a winemaker rarely leads straight-ahead. Gary left California State University, Humboldt with a zoology degree in hand to travel solo through New Zealand and Australia. A few weeks into his journey a chance opportunity to work a harvest in the McLaren Valle presented itself. Gary realized he had stumbled upon an experience that resonated. Winemaking combined his background in chemistry and interest in geology with the promise of a challenging career and appealing lifestyle. With newfound enthusiasm, Gary headed north to Napa Valley where he accepted a cellar job at Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 1980. During his 13-year tenure at Phelps, he worked at every level of winemaking from enologist to winemaker. Gary discovered a fondness for wild yeast fermentation while working several harvests at Franciscan before heeding a call over to the Silverado Trail to work with Dave and Emily Miner. Gary has led the winemaking crew at Miner Family Winery since 1997 and Grace Family Vineyards since 2001. Somehow Gary manages to find balance and thrive in the chaos at harvest time- -crafting his own blue label bottling, two estate wines for Grace and twenty-five plus boutique bottlings for Miner. He is also sous-chef for his wife Joan, who prepares many meals from the impressive garden they maintain behind their Saint Helena home. They raised two children together, Rebecca and Zac, who now appreciate balanced wines and character-rich beer. No stranger to the myriad fine wine growing regions, Gary enjoys well made wines from all over the globe. With thirty plus vintages behind him since his first crush down under, Gary continues to be driven and inspired by winemaking's unique blend of art and science.