As a longtime Sonoma County grape grower, Kevin Barr is no stranger to the origin of Sonoma County Winegrowers. Barr always knew he wanted to live a life in agriculture; his trekking back and forth between his home in Marin and his family’s sheep farm in Mendocino as a youngster set the vision for a life of agriculture in Sonoma County: “I spent my whole life going back and forth in the station wagon between Marin and Sonoma Counties. I could see that Sonoma County had a wonderful ag situation going on. So, when I went to US Davis [in 1979], I thought I really wanted to end up in Sonoma County, so I majored in Viticulture.”
After graduating from UC Davis, Barr moved immediately to Sonoma County and worked for a couple different companies. But in November 1983, “I started my own company—Redwood Empire Vineyard Management,” he states. It was not long after he created REVM that Barr became involved with the original Sonoma County Grapegrowers Association in the mid-1980s. “I was on that board for 10+ years,” he says proudly. “I was Chairman somewhere along the way in the early 90s…and then, it morphed into the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and I’ve served on that board for eight years”—the past two of which he was Chairman.
Although Barr has termed out, he will continue with Sonoma County Winegrowers on the Executive Committee, in addition to his role as Chairman of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. Looking back, Barr says, “I would describe my time with the commission as a fabulous experience. I participated and watched the organization grow into an extremely well-run, well-respected, go-to organization for Sonoma County agriculture.” And his pride doesn’t stop there, as he states, “I have tremendous respect for Karissa [Sonoma County Winegrowers President]—as she is the visionary—as well as for her wonderful staff.” Having taken a role in hiring much of the recent staff, Barr proclaims, “It’s been a wonderful experience helping to build the A-team.”
In addition to his appreciation for the Sonoma County Winegrowers team, Barr also has deep respect and admiration for his fellow grape growers who serve as board members. “These leaders are all outstanding; they are a very dedicated group. I am very proud of our Commissioners and Executive Committee, and honored to serve with all these wonderful, very dedicated, bright leaders in the wine industry,” Barr acknowledges.
And Barr is “most proud that we are such a cohesive group,” he says. “We have a very healthy, open discussion and at the end, we always come to an agreement…I give Karissa a tremendous amount of credit as a leader—she brings out the best in us.” Without forgetting to reiterate what’s most important about the work that Sonoma County Winegrowers does, Barr eagerly reports, “We’re doing what’s best for the whole industry. It’s very much a team spirit and I’m very proud of that team spirit.”
Sonoma County Winegrowers would like to thank Kevin Barr for his commitment and hard work with the organization over the last several decades, and we are pleased that Barr will be continuing his work with the commission as the Chairman of the Sonoma County Grapegrowers Foundation.