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Charlie Barra was born in Calpella, California (near Ukiah) in 1926 to Italian immigrants whose families worked in the vineyards of Italy as far back as the mid 1800s. He spent his early teen years working in his father's vineyard in Northern California and was an accomplished pruner by the age of 10.
In 1955, he bought Redwood Valley Vineyards, 175 acres at the headwaters of the Russian River. He soon converted the vineyard to a premium variety focus, and was among one of the first growers on the North Coast to plant Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Over the next 35 years, he expanded the vineyard to 200 acres and added another six varieties.
In 1997, he started the Barra of Mendocino wines with the release of the 1997 Petite Sirah. All BARRA of Mendocino wines are made from estate grown grapes from CCOF certified organic vineyards. The wines are solid, value priced offerings meant for the table. There is a second label, Girasole, as well (see Girasole).
Today, BARRA of Mendocino has a large winery and tasting room located a short distance from Charlie's birthplace. The tasting room is open daily. Charlie, well into his 80s, still runs the show, but his extended family is involved in the winery as well.
2014 BARRA of Mendocino Estate Grown Mendocino County Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 390 cases, $20. Released July 15, 2016. Charlie Barra just completed his 69th harvest. Wine is certified organic by CCOF and vegan friendly. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry and Asian spices lead off. The fruit ripeness pushes the envelope, with flavors of black cherry, black currant, cola, root beer, dark chocolate, and raisin. Still, the wine is nicely crafted with pliable tannins and some finishing purpose. Score: 88. Reviewed September 7, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 BARRA of Mendocino Estate Grown Mendocino Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, 876 cases, $20. Harvest Brix 23.3º. Certified organic grapes. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Inviting aromas of cherry, baking spice and underbrush. Light to mid weight essence of fresh red cherry and cranberry fruits backed by ruddy tannins. A thread of herbal oak runs through the background. Bright and food friendly with some finishing length. Score: 88. Reviewed November 22, 2015 ARTICLE »