Barra de Mendocino celebrates Earth Day

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Recognize six decades of organic viticulture

April 19 – Redwood Valley, Mendocino, March 2022 – BARRA of Mendocino has news and events planned for Earth Day this year, April 22.

In the Tasting Room on April 23 from noon to 3:00 p.m., guests can enjoy Earth Day goodies, delicious treats from the Slam Dunk Food Truck, and an animal adoption event with Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County, in addition to the range of products grown on the estate. wines, all from the organic vineyards of the family winery in Mendocino County. The winery will be offering sunflower seeds to all guests who bring their used corks and will also be waiving its tasting fee for Earth Day weekend.

The tasting room is located at 7051 North State Street, Redwood Valley (95470).

Why is Earth Day particularly “significant” for BARRA? Owner Martha Barra likes to say that Earth Day is “nothing new” for her family and her farm. A word of background: Mendocino farmers, growers and grape growers pioneered a sustainable farming approach long before it got the attention it has today, and a large percentage of grapes are grown under certified sustainable, organic, biodynamic and fish-friendly protocols. Over 25% of Mendocino County’s wine grapes are certified organic, in fact, 1/3 of the total organic wine grape acreage in California is in Mendocino County (here’s the source for that).

BARRA de Mendocino will be celebrating Earth Day throughout April in its tasting room with various activities including recycling cork, sunflower seedss and reusable bags, vegan education, and more.

Some fun Earth Day facts and figures:

  • 8: number of ponds fed with rainwater found on the three vineyards of the Barra estate
  • 9 months for the marc to “cook” before being buried in the soil of the vineyard
  • 0: chemicals-pesticides used on CCOF-certified Barra family vineyards in Mendocino County
  • 6: number of alpacas that live on the original ranch, Redwood Valley Vineyards
  • 3: number of goats that inhabit Redwood Valley Vineyards
  • 33: Number of years the Barra family’s home ranch, Redwood Valley Vineyards, has been certified by California Certified Organic Farmers.

An update on Barra’s organic approach for Earth Day 2022 is the family’s experimentation with the use of biochar in a test plot environment. Biochar is a wood product created by burning wood chips in equipment that uses very little oxygen for the combustion process. Early studies indicated that biochar has the potential to do at least three things: increase the vine’s ability to absorb nutrients, have water-holding capabilities, and increase carbon sequestration in the soil. Old vines uprooted for replanting could potentially be turned into biochar. Martha explains that “although more studies need to be done on this process, we feel it is worth spending our time and energy investigating the use of biochar as a soil amendment practice. This could be a critical farming practice since we are facing the most severe drought conditions on the northern California coast, perhaps in 1,200 years.

The Barras cultivate 9 grape varieties on their 350 acres of vineyards in Mendocino (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah). Owner Martha Barra explains how they came to organic farming: “The first thing my late husband, Charlie Barra, did to grow organic was to tell his best friend, a chemical salesman for the vineyard, to no longer come to my vineyard. The salesman would come to Charlie’s vineyards, see a deficiency, then tell the horror story of a neighbor down the road who had lost 50% of his crop because he hadn’t sprayed a certain fungicide. Charlie’s reasoning was, “My grandfather and father didn’t use commercial pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, so why should I?”

The original 175-acre parcel purchased in 1955, Redwood Valley Vineyards, was certified organic in 1989. After selling their grapes for many years, the Barras began producing their own wine in 1997 under the BARRA of Mendocino label and have added the Girasole Vineyards line in 2003.

On December 7, 2021, Representatives Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson introduced a resolution on the floor of the United States Congress honoring Martha Barra’s five decades of organic viticulture and her 80th birthday. The resolution reads in part, “Martha Barra’s enduring commitment to protecting the environment and the people of Mendocino County, while also producing award-winning, premium wine, is remarkable and benefits the region.” Madam Speaker, please join us in recognizing Martha Barra for her many contributions and wishing her a wonderful birthday.

Mendocino BAR offers indoor and outdoor tastings; no reservation is required. For details regarding special events, guests may call 707/485-0322 or email [email protected]. Set on 50 acres of certified organic vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir, the expansive 5,000 square foot tasting room features 40-foot ceilings, a circular tasting bar, indoor fountain, and flower-filled gardens . Dating back to the 1970s, this architectural phenomenon also serves as the anchor location for Mendocino County weddings, corporate and nonprofit community events.

The current wines made from organic grapes under BARRA de Mendocino are:

  • 2020 Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir 2019
  • 2018 Zinfandel
  • Cabernet 2018
  • Little Syrah 2019
  • Bella Dolce dessert wine 2015
  • CORO Mendocino 2018

The current vegan wines made from organic grapes under the Girasole vineyards are:

  • Canelli Muscat 2019
  • Pinot Blanc 2020
  • Rosé 2020
  • Chardonnay 2019
  • Pinot Noir 2020
  • Sangiovese 2019
  • 2019 Zinfandel
  • 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Charlie’s Mix 2019
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