Barra of Mendocino, 2019 Zinfandel – An Immediate Winner For “Best Wines Tasted” in 2022

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Background on CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers)

In order to understand the winery, it is essential to understand what organic farming and certification is all about. A very brief explanation, when Charlie Barra started the winery almost 40 years ago, he undertook a Herculean task of making it organic on his terms. In his words “Yes it’s more work (annual audits/certifications, paperwork, labor requirements), more risk (crop devastation from pests) and not necessarily a bigger payout, buts essential to the well-being of this planet”. His vision was remarkable.

The BARRA of Mendocino has been CCOF for over 20 years and took 3 years of inspections prior to become complete. Charlie’s favorite saying is that he had been farming organically for over 55 years! Organic certification requires the vineyards are maintained without conventional pesticides or herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Crop covers, of bell beans, red clover and peas are planted between the rows of vines and when flowering are then turned back into the soil for nutrients for the vineyards/grapes. The micro-organisms in the soil allow the vines to utilize the nutrients efficiently.

History of the Winery

Charlie followed his father and maternal grandfather who migrated to Mendocino County from Piedmont, Italy in 1906. Charlie began farming grapes in the mid 1940’s and in 1954 purchased Redwood Valley Vineyards. He worked vigorously with Karl Wente, Robert Mondavi and others to be one of the first growers of many varietals planted on the North Coast. Today the ranch grows organically Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Muscat Canelli. Besides the BARRA of Mendocino label, they have two other labels, Girasole Vineyards and CORO Mendocino. Charlie passed in 2019 and his wife of Martha who worked with him for almost 40 years, is heading the family winery which now stands at 350 acres and a 2.8 million gallon custom crush facility. They launched the BARRA of Mendocino Brand in 1997 and the Girasole Brand in 2003. Their son and daughter also have major responsibilities to keep the “family farm” running.

The 2019 Barra Zinfandel Estate Wine

The organic grapes come from the Bella Collina ranch and were hand harvest. The must was mixed twice a day to extract a beautiful color, flavor and smooth tannins. They strove for “a deep ruby color with flashes and jewel tones” and by all accounts achieved their goal.

First on the eyes a mesmerizing colors of purple and ruby awaits the partaker of this wine with medium viscosity. On the nose, aroma of fresh cherry pie in grandma’s kitchen is the predominant scent. Once on the palate, the red Bing cherries along with raspberry and Christmas spices dance merrily in the mouth. On the dry finish with 20% new French oak barrels provides a texture and structure and a soft vanilla finale.

This wine is 89% Zinfandel and 11% Petite Sirah and aged 17 months. Only 243 cases were produced and the suggested retail is $24/bottle. That is a phenomenal value for the layers of enjoyment for this dry Zinfandel wine from Mendocino County.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired this evening with a fried pork chop with seasonings of various spices including mesquite, topped off with Stewart & Jasper Orchards Cherry Pepper Sauce. Accompanied with rice, steamed broccoli and a fresh garden salad. The pork chop with soft smoky mesquite flavor and the candied cherry sauce combined beautifully with the robust Zinfandel with flavors of cherry and a sweet finish of vanilla.

This wine will make the Best Wines tasted in 2022 (out in December) for the bountiful flavors and tastes in the up to $50 category! Less than 2% of all wines make my annual listing for “Best Wines Tasted during any given year! Additionally, at the price point, it is an absolute deal!




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