Garry Brooks - How a Love for Wine Started a New Career and Winery

My Big Story

Garry Brooks left a long time career in technology to follow his love of wine. He shares his story of starting his career over, and eventually opening Brooks Note Winery in Marin County, CA




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Christopher Swan chats with winemaker, Garry Brooks. He and his wife Joanne founded Brooks Note Winery in Marin County, California. Garry has a great wine story that is far from typical because it’s all about following the thing you love, not just wine. Garry talks about the different phases of his journey: He went from a technology job at the Gap to going back to school and getting started in wine to working in the wine industry, until finally starting his own winery. Garry also talks about his various transitions, why they needed to happen and how they happened with support and real intention. It’s so clear that Garry loves wine, just as clear as his love of winemaking and sharing it with everybody. Garry’s journey is a terrific example of the power of deliberate decisions and living life intentionally.


Key Takeaways

[2:44] Garry loves to share his story because it’s been a real gift to be able to follow his journey.
[6:34] What does Garry’s winemaking world look like today?
[8:38] What type of wines is Garry making and why did he branch out into making different types?
[14:58] Garry takes us into his world before wine and shares his journey leading up to winemaking.
[22:07] Garry loves winemaking too much to walk away when things get tough.
[23:32] Garry had no idea how to become a winemaker but he did have a growing interest.
[25:47] In 2002, Garry and his wife planted a vineyard and every time he got to work on the grapes it felt like Christmas.
[27:43] Garry’s wife Joanne, encouraged and supported him to further explore winemaking.
[30:31] Did Garry have an ‘aha’ moment or did he just go with the flow of winemaking to see what happens?
[34:23] Garry gives his wife a lot of credit for helping him make the leap and for her support.
[36:29] How did taking a general chemistry class end up landing Garry his first harvesting job?
[38:55] If anyone listening needs a low paying job in the wine business to start, let Garry know because he can help you get one – he’s an expert. 😉
[41:27] He learned so much from Chris at Ravenswood and she was the one who gave him gave him an wine job opportunity while he was still going to school.
[43:38] Working in the industry and going to school at the same time was a lifesaver.
[47:38] What kept Garry in his vision and did he always know he wanted to start his own thing?
[53:47] Garry shares about the success they’ve had over the last 4 years. He says once the rock starts rolling down hill, it starts rolling pretty fast.
[55:58] There are obstacles that get thrown in along your journey, but don’t give up. Garry shares some examples.
[58:49] Any thoughts or questions you’d like to share? Send us a message or post a comment on Facebook or tweet us @accidentalinfo using #LivingYourJourney.


Mentioned in This Episode

@accidentalinfo on Twitter
Accidental Information on Facebook
UC Davis
Ravenswood Winery
Brooks Note Winery on Facebook



“All of those things that I did before wine make me a better winemaker.”
“Without Joanie’s support, I would’ve never turned it from being a hobby into what I do.”
“It starts with the day you walk in and you say I’m quitting my job, I’m gonna go be a winemaker.”
“It’s almost like riding around in a limo & tasting wine, except that you can never see a vineyard, you only see the inside of a tank, you’re dirty, tired, and purple.”
“There are obstacles that get thrown in along your journey, but don’t give up.”