Country of origin: Italy
Berry color: Black
Comments: TTB-approved prime name is Barbera
Barbera is a leading wine grape of Italy (second in planted acreage), particularly in the Piedmont region where it is thought to have originated. It is also important in Argentina and can be found in other South American countries as well as in Croatia. John Doyle first imported the grape into California and produced his first Barbera vintage in 1884 from vines planted in Cupertino. In the 1890s, the Italian Swiss Colony Winery used it successfully for several of its table wines. Yet it did not regain popularity after Prohibition until the rapid acreage expansion in the 1970s and 1980s, when it became a prominent red wine variety in the San Joaquin Valley, mostly for blending. In the coastal and foothill districts there is renewed interest in Barbera as a quality varietal wine grape and as a blend.
The vine is moderately vigorous when grown on its own roots on medium- to fine-textured soils (sandy loam to clay loam); it is not vigorous enough on its own roots in sandier soils (loamy sands and sands). Its growth is trailing, and the vine canopy is somewhat open; its foliage is not dense except with extreme vigor. The canes are slender and attach themselves with strong tendrils, making pruning and brush removal from trellis wires difficult. The vine often produces a moderate second crop.
Barbera has low tolerance to sodic (alkali) or saline soils. Excessive flower shatter at bloom has occurred on vigorous vines with high nitrogen. Own-rooted vines tend to sucker at their base, and it is often necessary to remove watersprouts from trunks and cordons.
Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis is the source of Foundation grapevine material for the nursery industry, and the staff can provide information about possible sources for obtaining this stock.
The National Grape Registry (NGR) contains information about varieties of wine, juice, and table grapes, raisins, and grape rootstocks available in the United States. Growers, nurseries, winemakers and researchers can find background information and source contacts for those grape varieties in this single convenient location.
Fidelibus, M, Christensen, L, Golino, D, Sweet, N and Cathline, K. 2009. Yield Components and Fruit Composition of Five Barbera Grapevine Selections in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 60(4):533-536. Abstract
Sweet, N. 2011. Barbera Finds a Second Home in California (pdf). FPS Grape Program Newsletter, Foundation Plant Services, University of California, Davis. pp 18-32.