2021 Barra of Mendocino Reserve Chardonnay

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Photo from BARRA

BARRA of Mendocino has a new label for their line of Reserve wines which are all CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). It is in honor of a historic oak tree found on its home ranch on the Redwood Valley Vineyards.  It is both a foiled oak and grape leaves, embossed on a black background. On the back of the bottle it states it is symbolic of their 70 year history making wine as in “Like an old oak tree, our roots run deep”. Martha Barra, winery owner and co-founder stated “A powerful icon in our vineyards, the oak tree represents wisdom and knowledge, strength and endurance, stability and honesty”.

About 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.

BARRA of Mendocino has been CCOF for over 20 years and took 3 years of inspections prior to becoming 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.

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 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 Wine – 2021 Barra of Mendocino Reserve Chardonnay

Photo ©Michael Kelly

With the new label an even more delightful Chardonnay. On the eyes a soft golden coloring with medium viscosity. On the nose pear leaps into the senses along with caramel. On the palate, a definite acidity, but more bright and opulent than sharp appears. A smooth Oak was noticeable. Secondary flavors of peach come to mind.  A mouth filling and rich Chardonnay for sure! The finish was a bit abrupt stating that as good as the wine was, I personally would have enjoyed a longer finish. This wine comes from their Redwood Valley Vineyards which is located at 837 feet elevation. It is a Wente clone Chardonnay and barrel fermented in 30% new French oak with the balance being neutral.  The stirring of the lees was done twice a week for 30 days to provide an exquisite texture.

It received 91+ points as Editor’s Choice, from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  The price point is considerably attractive at $24/bottle for such a rich wine.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Photo ©Michael Kelly

Paired with a fresh Dungeness crab cake with a remoulade sauce as an appetizer. The main entrée was a blackened Swordfish. Both were purchased from Ohana Seafood in Modesto. Accompanying the meal was a fresh garden salad with Japanese Miso dressing. With the beautiful Dungeness crab cake and meaty Swordfish, the wine was a good compliment with the oaked Chardonnay. The spiciness of the blackened Swordfish was counter balanced with the Chardonnay. A truly good food and wine pairing.







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