The son of grape growing, Italian immigrants from the Piedmont, Charlie Barra purchased 175 acres of vineyard land in Redwood Valley at the headwaters of the Russian River in the rolling foothills of Mendocino County [see map below] in 1955. Charlie Barra went on to become one of the leaders of the Mendocino wine industry and founded the California North Coast Grape Growers Association. The Barra family now farms 350 acres of organically cultivated vines in the Redwood Valley and began selling wines under its own BARRA of Mendocino label in 1997, initially made by John Parducci. In 2003, Barra added Girasole, a line of popularly priced, widely distributed wines. All the wines are made with organically certified, estate grown grapes. Today, Martha Barra is owner and UC Davis grad Randy Meyer is winemaker at BARRA of Mendocino. Randy was previously lead winemaker at Geyser Peak Winery; he also leads the winemaking at Redwood Valley Cellars, the Barra’s custom crush facility.
We’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit Redwood Valley, but we hope to do so soon. We have been tasting wines from other parts of Mendocino County. See our recent report on The Wines of Anderson Valley and our article on Jason Drew whose winery is in the Mendocino Ridge AVA.
Girasole Vineyards 2019 Pinot Blanc Mendocino County ($14) 89 Made from organically cultivated grapes, the Girasole Pinot Blanc is an attractive, quaffing wine. It offers honeydew melon, pear and white peach scents and flavors and is full and round in the mouth. There’s good freshness and a nice, lingering finish. But above all else it’s an easy drinking crowd pleaser made for summer picnics and winter days when we wished we were at a summer picnic. The winery suggests pairing with crabcakes, and we couldn’t agree more. RS 2.5 g/L, 13.5% alc.
Girasole Vineyards 2019 Pinot Noir Mendocino County ($16) 90 It’s rare to find an inexpensive Pinot Noir that we would like to drink, but the Girasole Pinot Noir is delicious and an amazing value. The nose shows red berry, dark cherry and plum that are mirrored on a silky, smooth entry and an easy drinking palate. This would make a great bistro wine. A blend of 98% Pinot Noir and 2% Petite Sirah from hand harvested estate fruit, given a cold soak, destemmed, and fermented in stainless steel. Matured in French oak for 8 months. 14.2% alc
BARRA 2017 Petite Sirah Mendocino County ($22) 92 The first release from the Barra family in 1997, the BARRA Petite Sirah is an excellent wine and an outstanding value. It offers a dark fruited nose with notes of plum and huckleberry and is full on the attack with dark, concentrated flavors. It’s firmly structured with a silky texture and a sense of elegance. Handpicked from the estate’s 948′ high, Bella Collina hillside vineyard aged 18 months in 20% new French and American oak. 14.5% alc.