According to the 2022 edition of the Slow Wine Guide (purchase here) Charlie Barra was born in 1926 in Mendocino into a first generation family of Italian immigrants. Barra worked in their vineyard, and while still in high school in 1945, began his career as a wine grower. In 1955, Barra purchased a 175 acre Redwood Valley vineyard, eventually adding 90 more acres to total 250 acres today. A pioneer, he organized growers to fight for better contracts, started North Coast AVA, and in 2011 he was the first in the US to use water for frost protection. With Charlie’s passing at 92, his wife Martha, took over the family business which includes these two brands producing 20,000 cases of wine made from organic grapes and a custom crush facility. The 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire nearly destroyed them, and they are still recovering. Wines are made using commercial cultured yeasts from 100% estate-grown certified organic grapes.
Pairings for Certified Organic Wines from Girasole/Barra of Mendocino
- Girasole 2019 Pinot Blanc ($15)
paired with strawberry salad
- Girasole 2019 Pinot Noir ($16)
paired with smoked salmon deviled eggs
- Barra Petite Sirah ($22)
paired with steak, baked potato, broccoli
- samples provided for my review
Girasole 2019 Pinot Blanc, Mendocino
Bring on the Oysters!
Aroma: Minerals, pollen, florals like chamomile, daisy, lemon, pomelo, tangerine.
Palate: Clean, bright, Meyer lemon, minerality.
Pairing: Oysters are a classic pairing but basil pesto would also be good. Green salad with strawberry, feta, walnuts, and a little mint. Consider a watermelon mint salad for summertime. Very nice with deviled eggs and picnic fair, add a bit of smoked salmon to the meal and it harmonizes with the wine. The herbal mint, fresh strawberries and lemon honey salad dressing in the salad was fabulous with the wine.
Girasole 2019 Pinot Noir, Mendocino
For the price, this wine overdelivers. It is not often that you can find a likable Pinot Noir for under $25.
Aroma: Lots of raspberry, like being in the middle of a wild raspberry patch, loamy earth, redwoods, violet, red hots candy, over delivers for the price point,
Palate: Tart raspberry fruit, not as much complexity on the palate as the nose, but it is very pleasant, nice textural quality, chalky, sour grass finish, nice and lively, light and bright.
Pairing: I thought about roast chicken as a great companion with the wine. It would also be nice with grilled salmon. Very nice with a berry salad making the wine so fruity and sweet. Our salad also had fresh mint in it which was perfect with the wine. Baked Camembert and pate is so befitting of this wine. This is a wine that can go from a cheese plate to a salad course to a main meal making it a very versatile wine. The pate was also quite nice with the wine, but seemed a bit rich after the bright and fruity salad.
On a subsequent evening a few days later, this wine was still fabulous AND amazing with chicken marsala! The bright fruit cut through the richness of the dish while also complementing the mushrooms and not overwhelming the chicken.
Barra Petite Sirah
Aroma: Plum and earth, blueberry, more blueberry than plum, fresh blueberry rather than cooked blueberry.
Palate: Big grippy tannins, very textural, intense, Petite Sirah is supposed to be intense and this is an intense wine. Bramble fruit, blackberry, fresh fruit not cooked fruit. Very nice wine, big wine, very drying, chalky drying, fruity yet dry like yin and yang. Tobacco and cigar box, the fruit is the highlight of this wine. Fruit forward but not sweet.
Pairing: This wine deserves a well crafted grilled piece of meat. The filet mignon and the wine together were decadent. The fat in the filet melts balances the tannins in the wine and brings out lovely fruit. The fruit, acidity, and tannins in the wine cleanse the richness of the meat. It was a terrific pairing. The rosemary in the filet brings out the sweet fruit in the Syrah. Place a gremolatta atop the meat to enhance the flavor of both the meat and the wine. The winery suggests a lamb stew paired with the wine which we both could see after tasting the wine and our meal this evening. The wine would love the rich meat and root vegetables in a stew.