By Linda J. Bottjer

Known, as one of the Tuscan wines, the Barberas of the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley are created in landscapes is reminiscent of Italian Piedmont region. The red wine is well-paired with many food types. Travel to these varied wineries for a taste of some of the best Barberas in California.

(credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

Cooper Winery
21365 Shenandoah School Road
Plymouth, CA
(209) 245-6181

A deep garnet coloring announces this 2009 Barbera Risvera as being a true jewel. Its nose, like a Moroccan marketplace, is full of spices like cloves and nutmeg with peppery notes familiar to all Barberas. Imagine cramming a handful of sun-ripened blackberries in your mouth followed by a piece of dark chocolate. The meld of a slightly sweet taste with a bit of bitterness pairs well with grilled beef tenderloin topped with Gorgonzola cheese.

(credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

Nevada City Winery
321 Spring Street
Nevada City, CA
(530) 265-9463

Soft in texture, vibrant in purple shadings and with an intensity of black cherry, boysenberry and blueberry tastes the Barbera from Nevada City Winery sells out quickly year after year. The liquid richness means it pairs beautifully with a wide range of foods. A simple cheese pizza, gnocchi filled with wild mushrooms or fennel and apple together in a pork pie all benefit from the accompaniment of a glass, or two, of this Barbera.

Boeger Winery
1709 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
(530) 622-8094

Smooth is the frequent comment on the El Dorado County winery’s 2008 Barbera. The first sip is intense with fruit flavors of summer berries and a fig’s sweet pungency. Then the spice of black pepper delivers a rush of warmth to the back of the throat. Pairing the Barbera with food is fun due to the printed recipes found in the tasting room or online at their website. In a red cake with chocolate chips or rice with pork sausage, this Barbera is versatile with a variety of foods – in and out of the glass.

(credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

Macchia Winery
7099 E Peltier Rd
Acampo, CA
(209) 333-2600

This winery’s “Infamous” Barbera has made it making it famous to fans of the Tuscan-styled wine. Made from grapes of Amador County’s Cooper Ranch the wine has a 15.3% alcohol content making its impact big, yet never overwhelming. With berried and black cherry flavors it stands up to herbaceous infused grilled meats such as lamb chops with rosemary and fresh mint.

(credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

Jodar Winery
3405 Carson Court
Placerville, CA
(530) 644-3474

In El Dorado County, the Jodars call their Barbera “the Cherry Bomb” for a reason. An explosion of the stone fruit smell prepares your mouth for a powerhouse of tastes. Cherries and sweet spring strawberries mingle with spikes of spice and sparks of vanilla. Its lusciousness stands up well to creamy dishes like beef stroganoff or the mac and cheese recipe found on their website.

(credit: Villa Vallecito Vineyards)

Villa Vallecito Vineyards
8330 Aiola Rd.
Vallecito CA
No Website

Villa Vallecito might be new on the Barbera block; however, their Calaveras County wine is playing nicely with the big kids. Its body weighs nicely on the tongue and then delivers a delightful potent elixir. In a single mouthful it is the tart coolness of raspberries swirled with black pepper and the earthiness of nutmeg. Its acidic spicy smoothness pairs well with the hottest of Sichuan and a simple hamburger. Call ahead to schedule a wine tasting.

(credit: The Barbera Festival)

Barbara Festival 2012
Get your tickets early to this sell-out gathering of Barbera lovers. Scheduled to be held on June 9, 2012, at the Cooper Ranch in Plymouth, over 80 Barbera winemakers’ expertise is celebrated. The participants come from surrounding counties as well as Paso Robles, Santa Cruz, Napa, Sonoma and Ventura.
Linda Bottjer is a full time writer whose love of California wine leads her on many grape adventures. Her work can be found at