Angie Tarbat's fast-pitch softball team was playing well but nonetheless struggling in a Modesto tournament Saturday. Her family's barbera, however, was cruising to an easy win in the Amador County Fair commercial wine competition at Plymouth.
The sweepstakes wine is the big and balanced Boitano Family Wines 2006 Sierra Foothills Shenandoah Valley Barbera ($24), just released. To get to the sweepstakes, the wine first had to be declared best of class, then top the most competitive round of the day, the voting for best red, which involved 18 wines, ranging from a sangiovese and a syrah to a meritage and a merlot. Then it went up against a sauvignon blanc, a port and a rose in the final showdown.
Bob and Erlene Boitano established Boitano Family Wines in 1999 at Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, starting with a sangiovese vineyard. They introduced the brand in 2001. The wines are made at Lockeford. The grapes for the sweepstakes barbera were grown at Dick Cooper's ranch in the Shenandoah Valley.
At last year's Amador County Fair, the Boitano Family Wines 2005 Shenandoah Valley Barbera also put in a strong performance, being named the best Amador County wine based on a traditional Italian grape variety. The 2005 barbera still is available at some Raley's supermarkets in the Sacramento area, but the 2006 has yet to reach the local market. The Boitanos bottled 350 cases of the wine, and have more in barrel.
Angie Tarbat's 12-and-under softball team, incidentally, finished third in the Modesto tournament.