Awarded Best of Mendocino County AVA, Best of Class, 99 points & Double Gold
Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, December 2023 — BARRA of Mendocino’s single vineyard Girasole Vineyards 2022 Pinot Blanc was honored as “Best of Mendocino County AVA” and “Best of Class” in the 2023 Harvest Terroir Challenge Wine Competition, which occurred in November 2023. The judges called the wine “Fresh, intriguing, silky, wild thyme, chamomile, orange peel.” The wine retails for $16.00 and is available on the winery’s website and in limited retail outlets across the country.
Winemaker Randy Meyer explains that “the certified organic grapes for this wine were hand-harvested from our home ranch, Redwood Valley Vineyards, in early September 2022. The cold fruit was destemmed and immediately transferred to our tank press. The juice was fermented cold at 50-55F to produce maximum esters and delicate flavors. The wine was then cold aged in stainless steel at 40F for approximately 90 days to retain freshness and fruit character.” He describes the wine as “white, golden-hued in color with captivating aromas of light honeysuckle, lemon citrus and almond husk. On the palate, bright flavors of soft lemon peel and mandarin orange. The citrusy flavors are soft and elegant, while still delivering a crisp, clean finish. This is a vibrant, dry wine with a terrific balance of fruit, crisp acids and our signature Mendocino minerality.”
Winery founder/owner Martha Barra explains how Pinot Blanc figures into the winery’s offerings: “There are approximately 425 acres of pinot blanc grown in the entire state of California. We farm 14.5 of these acres in the Mendocino County appellation. Located 825 feet above sea level, our pinot blanc was originally planted in the late 1970s as a blending varietal when we sold fruit to other wineries. Over the years, it has become a true door-opener for us at retail and restaurant locations as not everyone is walking in the door offering an estate grown, certified organic pinot blanc at this price point.”
With hundreds of entries from across the globe, the Harvest Challenge bases judging on a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions and grapes that combine to give personality to the wine. In other competitions, terroir is ignored. At the Harvest Challenge, judges taste wines with other wines of the same appellation. With cross-regional competition removed, the inherent quality of wines can be seen without the influences that sometimes eclipse even a wine of very high quality. BARRA of Mendocino’s reserve wines also connected with the judges, with their Barra Reserve 2020 Petite Sirah and Barra Reserve 2021 Pinot Noir garnering a Double Gold/ 96 points, their Barra Reserve 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon receiving a Gold/94 points and the 2021 Girasole Vineyards Charlie’ Red Blend receiving a Double Gold/96 points.
“This year’s Harvest Challenge was incredibly difficult in a good way,” reflected judge Jennifer “JB” Kelly, founder and president of Luxury Wine Partners, a sales, marketing and public relations agency located in Sonoma County. “All of the wineries that participated should feel incredibly accomplished, as it was tough to narrow down wine choices for the sweepstakes process. The wines were amazingly well crafted and the appellations from each region shined!”
The Barra family farms three certified organic vineyard properties in Mendocino County, which are planted to nine different varietals. Their original 175-acre parcel purchased in 1955, Redwood Valley Vineyards, was certified organic in 1989. After selling their grapes for many years, they began making their own wine in 1997 under the BARRA of Mendocino label and added the Girasole Vineyards line in 2003.
The tasting room and event center at BARRA of Mendocino is located at 7051 North State Street, Redwood Valley, CA 95470. Reservations are not required, but large groups can call 707/ 485-0322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make special arrangements.
Set on 50 acres of certified organics vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, the sprawling 5,000 square foot tasting room offers 40-foot ceilings, a circular tasting bar, indoor fountain and blooming gardens. Dating back to the 1970s, this architectural phenomenon also serves as an anchor venue for Mendocino County weddings, corporate and non-profit community events.