CAN JEN WALL really have marked her 20th anniversary as winemaker at Barefoot Wine & Bubbly? Did she start when she was 5 years old? Well, it’s true, and it must be passion that drives her. “I love my job!” says Wall, who stewards the country’s No. 1 revenue wine brand and globally the second-largest bottled wine brand. Think about it: In today’s stores, it seems the regular Barefoot wines plus the Bubblies in all their incarnations can take up a football field-size space.
According to her recent Facebook posting, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the time founder Davis Bynum created this brand in his garage in Alameda County, Calif., and decided “to name it Barefoot in honor of the way grapes were originally stomped and wines originally made.” It’s been 30 years, she writes, since the Bynums sold the brand to Michael Houlihan who, with his partner Bonnie Harvey, relaunched Barefoot in magnums and considered the foot on the label more a lifestyle statement than a tribute to old-fashioned winemaking. For a final exclamation point, it’s been 10 years since the brand was bought by E.&J. Gallo.
I tip my hat to Barefoot for the quality they can put in a $6.99 wine.
Barefoot Cellars Chardonnay California, $6.99: With just a kiss of oak, this wine has plenty of fruit braced with acidity to keep you passing the bottle around the table. Think flavors of green apple, pineapple, citrus and apricot made in an approachable dry style. It doesn’t cheat with sweetness.
Barefoot Cellars Merlot California, $6.99: This baby has amazing intense fruit: dark berries, cranberry, plum and dark chocolate with a touch of vanilla. Notes of integrated oak help lift the fruit and complement the medium-firm tannins.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@Hotmail.com.