One idea behind this blog was not to post anything that might appear in the book, just stories around the wineries. But this girl is just too amazing not to talk about in two places.
And besides, it’s her birthday.
Miss Rachel Cook, winemaker of Brushy Creek Vineyards and Winery in Alvord, Texas.
She’s 28 years old today. And it’s her 6th year of working at the winery. But she’s been around it since she was 8 years old, when her mother worked in the vineyard. Six years ago she started volunteering with bottling and, as she jokes, Les, (her mentor, owner of Brushy Creek, and original winemaker) tried to send her home, tried to get rid of her, but she just kept coming back. Truly though, Les recognized her talent and ambition and encouraged her to continue with school and increase her skills.
Now she’s trained in viticulture and enology from the T.V. Munson Center at Grayson County College, one of the few accredited programs in the country. And she’s a natural. As Les’ mother, Dorothy, told me, “Rachel has what we call good taste buds.” Les says she can pick up all the nuances in a wine, just on scent.
I believe them. Her wines are fantastic. Fine. Wines with complexity, that change in your mouth from start to finish. She manages the estate vineyard too, in addition to several other vineyards that supply the winery. And she mentors other winemakers in the region, lending instruction and advice. As one man told me, “She’s young enough to be my daughter,” but a great winemaker and he goes to her for guidance. “Rachel is a really smart girl.”
Since the beginning of this research, I’ve been fascinated by the next generation of the Texas wine industry, people in their 20’s and 30’s who are eager to push Texas wine forward. Rachel is the first girl I’ve met of that group, and she is clearly a force to be reckoned with, and a blessing to the industry. She and Les make an incredible team, playing off each other ideas, learning from each other. And it makes for fantastic quality.
Happy birthday, Rachel! My guess is you’ll be in the vineyard, working with the vines you love. Can’t wait to see what comes of them, and you, this year.