Brooks Mill is one of the least pretentious wineries I’ve ever visited. Located in a suburban neighborhood, its tasting room/production area is a converted garage next to the owner’s home. If the ‘winery’ is closed no worries – just ring the outdoor bell and someone will be with you shortly.
Co-owner Rhonda Page was my server; her husband is the wine maker. She explained how he loved blackberry wine so much he decided to make it himself; the hobby expanded from there. Now Brooks Mill (named after an old local landmark) has been open 10 years and produce all sorts of fruit wines – not just blackberry!
Rhonda explained a lot of their business comes from tourists visiting Smith Mountain Lake, although they are also active on the local festival circuit. Almost on cue a small party came in and sure enough – they were out-of-towners having fun at the lake’s campgrounds and beaches, and stopped here for a few bottles.
All the wine made at Brooks Mill is from fruit; not a single ‘grape’ wine was in sight. Almost all the fruit they use is local, with the blackberries coming from their own property.
Fruit wine has a reputation for being sweet, but I found my samples to be a mix of dry, sweet, and everything in between.
For the 100% fruit wines, I liked the semi-sweet plumb the best; it reminded me of a plumb-based desert. But the sweet blueberry and peach wines were also nice. Rhonda recommended the former with ice cream, and the later tasted exactly like the fruit it came from.
They also had a blend of Chambourcin and blueberry, made in a dry style. Actually this combo works well, as Chambourcin is naturally fruity already. But the sangria was by far my favorite of the trip. Made with maraschino cherries and Gatorade, they sell ‘kits’ for making this at home.
For such a tiny place, I really enjoyed my visit to Brooks. Fruit wine isn’t something I’d have all the time, but when it’s hot out I’d be happy go get a bottle from here.