Married for 38 years, world-renowned winemakers Bo and Heidi Barrett have spent nearly one-third of their marriage working together on their joint wine venture, Barrett & Barrett. After decades spent in parallel winemaking careers – Bo at Chateau Montelena; Heidi with over two dozen boutique wineries, including Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Paradigm, and her brand, La Sirena – the Barretts are proudly celebrating their 12th vintage together. To mark the milestone, the winery is releasing rare library selections and a very limited vertical case of Barrett & Barrett Cabernet Sauvignon that includes every vintage from 2008-2019.
Daughter Remi Barrett (Director of Sales & Marketing for the winery) explained tasting through every vintage with the winery team. “We were all blown away by the 2008 [their first vintage]. It was incredible to see how well it’s held up and evolved. It’s the perfect thesis statement for the brand, melding my mom’s winemaking artistry with my dad’s Calistoga vineyard expertise.”
2012 was another big hit with the panel of tasters—while aging beautifully, it has a lot of life ahead too. 2016 and the more recent 2018 and 2019 were favorites, too, even as young wines.
Recalling tougher years, 2011 and 2017 stand out. “My dad says, ‘Any winemaker can make a good wine from a great vintage, but you prove yourself when you make a great wine from a difficult year.’”
That’s what they did in 2011 and 2017. 2011 was infamously frigid, but because their vineyards are north of Calistoga, they had the warmest weather in the valley. As a result, they produced a ripe, well-rounded wine despite the challenging weather.
Their location also benefited them in 2017, with fortuitous early ripening that year. “We were able to bring our fruit in well before the fires happened, so smoke damage wasn’t an issue at all that year.”
These vintage tales help tell the story of the brand, the business, and the couple. The husband-and-wife duo’s business partnership mirrors the evolution of a long-term marriage.
“Bo has devoted his entire career to Chateau Montelena, over 40 years at one winery with specific estate vineyards, whereas Heidi is known for working with many different projects and putting her touch on different wineries, varietals, and AVAs. When they first started Barrett & Barrett, they were both used to being the boss, so they had to figure out how to work together in a totally new way.”
During their first year working together, they found that dividing the labor, with Heidi focusing on winemaking and Bo working on the vineyard, allowed them to create magic in the bottle (“And stay married!” Barrett says with a laugh.)
When asked what makes Barrett & Barrett great, Remi mused, “My parents have quite different personalities and skill sets, so they really complement one another. Because of their experiences over so many years in the wine industry, they understand and support each other on a level that no one else really can. It’s amazing to see all this shared history and love expressed in the form of wine.”