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Jim Barrett (winemaker)

James L. Barrett (November 8, 1926 – March 14, 2013) was the owner of Chateau Montelena which won the Chardonnay competition of the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine tasting. Barrett first purchased the winery with Ernie Hahn in 1972 from Lee Paschich, retaining him as a general manager, and hired Mike Grgich to be his winemaker. Barrett uprooted the Chasselas, Alicante Bouschet, and Carignane that had been previously planted and replanted his acres with premium Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery purchased outsource Chardonnay grapes while waiting for the Cabernet vines to be ready.[2] In 1982, he turned over winemaker duties to his son Bo Barrett.

Jim Barrett
Born (1926-11-08)November 8, 1926[1]
Chicago, Illinois
Died March 14, 2013(2013-03-14) (aged 86)
San Francisco, California
Education Bachelor of Arts, 1946
Alma mater UCLA, Loyola Law School
Occupation Winery owner
Years active 1972-1982
Known for Owner/producer at Chateau Montelena when their 1973 Chardonnay won the Judgment of Paris in 1976.

Barrett spent his early years selling news papers in Los Angeles before entering the U.S Navy during World War II.[3] He graduated with his BA from UCLA in 1946 and his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1950.[4]

Barrett was portrayed by Bill Pullman in the 2008 film Bottle Shock.


Barrett died March 14, 2013 in San Francisco at age 86. The cause was not given. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Judy; his children from a previous marriage, Stephanie, Bo, Michael, Kevin and Gabriela; and five grandchildren.[5]


  1. ^ "James L. Barrett dies; pioneering Napa vintner". LA Times. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  2. ^ G. Taber The Judgment of Paris: California vs France pg 143 Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-4751-5
  3. ^ "10 Questions for Jim Barrett of Chateau Montelena Winery, Calistoga". Napa Valley Register. Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc. October 24, 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Chateau Montelena - James L. Barrett". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  5. ^ "James L. Barrett dies; pioneering Napa vintner". LA Times. Retrieved 19 March 2013.