“After 27 years, we’re back. Remember us?” asks Tim Bacino. Brookside Winery closed its doors 27 years ago, after at one time holding court as the 14th largest winery in the nation. At its peak, Brookside had 36 retail stores selling wine, cheese and deli items and offering wine tastings. They had 150 labels, producing everything from table wines to cooking wines, sparkling wines, altar wines and brandies. Beatrice Foods bought Brookside in 1972 and ten years later sold it, for a time closing the chapter on the Brookside story.

Tim Bacino is part of the 6th generation of the family. His ancestor Theophile Vache established a winery in Hollister in 1832, before eventually moving the operation south to the Rancho Cucamonga area. When he turned 40, Tim couldn’t resist the urge any longer. Nearly two centuries of winemaking history has a powerful pull. He’s collected wine as long as he can remember and he loves to cook and pair wines with the meals he prepares. “It was kind of like a calling.” So, a few years ago, he sat down with his uncle René Biane to learn even more about his family’s legacy and ask his advice about re-launching the brand.

Tim began spreading the word that Brookside was coming back. He learned what a huge following the label had. He still gets an average of an email a week from people telling him they found an old bottle of Brookside wine and asking him if it’s still good. They also love to share their stories and their favorites, wondering if he’ll bring back the ones that bring them fond memories. “These are huge shoes to fill.”

It’s been heartwarming for him to see the reception he’s getting from those in the industry. He says they all want to know what they can do to help. The reputation his ancestors put in place has helped open doors that otherwise would have been locked tight. Not only is Tim looking forward to bringing back Brookside, he wants to share the family story and romance. Initially Brookside will be sourcing all of its fruit to make its wine, but eventually he plans on planting vineyards and opening a tasting room. With today’s economy, quality fruit is readily available and it doesn’t make sense to plant vineyards… yet.

Brookside will relaunch with two labels: their premium Generation 7 line featuring a 2005 Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2009 Library Viognier, selected to be poured January 27, 2011 in New York City at the reception dinner at the James Beard Foundation and the 2008 Reserve Road To Zanzibar Zinfandel blend. I had the opportunity to taste these wines with Tim and they are showing beautifully. He chose the Generation 7 name because his seven year old daughter  Gabriella is a part of the 7th generation of Brookside. There will also be a consumer driven line under the Brookside Winery label Featuring Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah. Future plans include Muscat Canneli as they try to recreate Golden Rose.

Tim’s goal is to produce food friendly wines and believes a good wine should be made to accompany a meal. Older brother Matthew holds a degree in enology and one day Tim hopes the company is able to afford to pay the “lab geek’s” salary. Look for the wines on the Brookside website in the very near future. They will also be doing tastings at area restaurants and wine shops. I for one am excited at the prospects.

Gabriella, Susanne' and Tim Bacino