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Cherishing Family and Traditions: Janis Barsetti Gray of Barsetti Vineyards

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With roots deep in the California soil, Janis Barsetti Gray has turned her family homestead, once a dairy farm, into a sprawling 120 acres of zinfandel. Just outside her hometown of Galt, Janis continues the Barsetti family tradition by farming the land that has been in her family for generations.

“My grandfather, Gottardo Barsetti, immigrated to America in 1903 from the southern part of Switzerland and settled in Galt in 1912. In 1941, my father and grandparents bought the property where the vineyard exists today,” shared Janis. It wasn’t until she and her husband, Richard, retired from their corporate careers that they followed a new passion. With the California sunshine in their back pockets, they planted the vineyard in 1996 and established the Barsetti Vineyards wine label in 2001. “The vineyard was a way for me to continue our family tradition of farming and to give back to the community. I was born and raised in Galt, and after my parents passed away I inherited the family farm. The vineyard is planted on a portion of the family land; my brothers farm the rest. I enjoy living in the home I was raised in. I walk outside every day and there are so many wonderful reminders of my childhood.”

Barsetti Vineyards
The couple worked together to establish their brand, developing ideas for how to market their new wines. “Richard worked to get our wines in the local stores and restaurants and was the driving force behind making the wine label successful,” added Janis. In 2014, Barsetti Vineyards opened a tasting room in the heart of downtown Galt. As the family business began to grow, the tasting room took off as a local hotspot. However, as the tasting room experienced great success, Janis experienced a great loss when Richard passed away in 2015. “After Richard passed away I knew that I had to keep going. It was our passion to do everything together and we both wanted the tasting room to be successful. Richard would be so proud to see how far it has come today. Everything we had planned together is working so well.”

Janis knew that wine clubs were an important element of owning and operating a vineyard. “I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough people to have a good-sized wine club. And the success of the wine club and the vineyard was very important to us,” revealed Janis. Her fears were quickly met by an overwhelming response from the community of Galt and beyond.

Developing Her Strength
Entering a new chapter in her life, Janis found herself running a business on her own. No longer able to share ideas and discuss the future of the vineyard with Richard, she was at a crossroads. “I knew what I had to do,” she said. “I’m not someone who starts something and quits.” Pulling from her career at the Hertz Corporation at the Sacramento International Airport, she realized keeping the small family winery going was her way to honor Richard and the Barsetti family name. She continued to work with wholesale customers, hired employees to work in the tasting room and pushed forward, running the day-to-day operations. She strived to learn as much as she could about the wine business, including working alongside the winemaker, blending wines herself and choosing the right grapes and, of course, which delicious blend to create next.

Eighteen Varieties and Growing
Barsetti Vineyards’ award-winning blends are as unique as they are delicious. Oenophiles can enjoy a variety of blends bursting with flavor including the port-style dessert wines Mango Mischief and Peach Party. For those who enjoy red blends, the Pinot Noir 2012 is a medium-bodied wine with aromas of red and black cherry with supple tannins and a hint of mocha.

Those who can’t decide on a favorite are always welcome to stop by the tasting room, with fun events such as live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Patrons can “wine down” while sipping delicious wines including Janis’s favorite, Old Town Red, which features a label close to her heart. It’s adorned with an image of Old Town Galt during its glory days when her grandparents first purchased the family farm. Additional events include Bunco, during which guests can win prizes while enjoying appetizers and, of course, wine. The tasting room also offers floral and painting classes, and this month Janis is adding a new beading class during which customers can learn to make personalized jewelry.

“There are so many wonderful wineries and people within the Lodi region. The community has given so much to me and continues to be a wonderful outlet for my passions,” she affirmed. “I know Richard would be so happy and proud to see how far the winery has come.”

Visit the tasting room at 400 4th Street, Suite 150, Galt, California, or call 209-744-6062.