University of the Pacific alumni, specifically wine enthusiasts, are about to gain some insight into a fellow Tiger’s successful wines this weekend after Galt’s Barsetti Vineyards was chosen for a virtual tasting as part of the school’s homecoming celebration.
Janis Barsetti Gray, who is a UOP alum, is one of the winery owners selected for the honor after winning a taste competition for UOP alumni. As a result, Barsetti Gray will lead viewers on a demo on what they can expect when tasting her Old Town Red and 2014 Zinfandel wines during a virtual Taste of the Pacific, which includes a second winery that won the contest, as well as two other wineries owned by alumni that will complete the schedule with wine tastings.
Alumni who registered for the event had the option to pre-purchase Old Town Red (which is sold under the 1851 Tiger Vines label as Red Blend after UOP bought 56 cases and labeled them in celebration of Old Town Red’s taste test win) through UOP online. Those who ordered will be able to taste along as Barsetti Gray leads the Zoom tasting. Barsetti Gray said she’ll be talking about the history of the wine before leading the tasting. There will be a chance for event participants to ask Barsetti Gray questions afterward.
As of last week, 300 alumni had registered for the event, which will also feature Lange Twins Winery, Klinker Brick Winery and St. Amant Winery.
The Red Blend is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Syrah grapes, and is Barsetti Vineyards’ biggest-selling wine.
“To me, it’s a big deal for a winery in Galt. It’s particularly tied to the history of Galt, this label,” Barsetti Gray said of the Red Blend.
“You never know when you’re going to win but I was really pleased, particularly since I’m an alumni,” Barsetti Gray, who was in the class of 1972, said of the honor.
Barsetti Gray has poured her wines for fellow alumni at previous Taste of the Pacific events during homecoming week.
“I always pour at the Taste of the Pacific, which is where any of us who are alumni get to pour our wines there for the rest of the people. It’s usually a pretty good crowd. Of course, that’s not going to happen this year. So they came up with this virtual Zoom tasting,” Barsetti Gray said.
Those who are not alumni also have the option to purchase the Red Blend with the limited edition label at www.1851tigervines.com, Barsetti Gray said. It is also available with its regular label at Barsetti’s tasting room at 400 Fourth Street, Suite 150 in Galt, as is the 2014 Zinfandel.
The 2014 Zinfandel, which has “bright red cherry and red raspberry flavors” with “touches of strawberry and a light oak finish,” holds a special place in Barsetti Gray’s heart.
“I kind of selected this one because this one has the last grapes my husband harvested. It was 2014; he passed away in 2015. It was the last wine he actually had anything to do with,” she said.
Janis and Richard Barsetti Gray started the wine label in 2003.
In its day-to-day operations, Barsetti Vineyards’ tasting room has adjusted its operations due to certain safety-related restrictions placed on businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with other local small businesses.
The tasting room has begun to offer small wine crafts with two-ounce or larger pours for tables who have multiple people, out of convenience for both guests and staff.
“We bring it out to them and they pour it out themselves. That way, they can continue talking and chit-chatting, and we just check with them periodically,” Barsetti Gray said. “We don’t have any hands-on glasses. We’re wearing gloves when we do this. That’s worked out so well, I’m going to continue doing that after this is all over.”
Barsetti Gray reduced her staff (which mainly consists of retirees) and started working two out of the three days the tasting room is open herself and eliminated live music for the time being and has found a reliable source of revenue in the company’s wine club pickups, which occur four times a year.
Barsetti Gray expressed confidence that Barsetti Vineyards will pull through and said she’ll re-hire the rest of her staff when the tasting room is back to full strength.
“I try to be positive about it,” Barsetti Gray said.
Having never hosted a virtual tasting, Barsetti Gray said she is preparing, along with her niece Allison, who might participate in her demo.
“It’s kind of different. I’ve been on TV before but, here, you’re talking to people you can’t even see so that’s going to be interesting,” she said.
Barsetti Vineyards’ tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays and can be contacted at 209-744-6062.