Martha’s foray into the wine industry began in 1980 when she married Charlie Barra, a pioneer of organic grape growing in Mendocino County. Before his passing in 2019 at the ripe age of 92, Martha worked side by side with Charlie for almost 40 years playing a pivotal role in helping build the family wine business into what it is today; over 325 acres of certified organic vineyards, two wine brands, and a 2.8 million gallon custom crush facility. Early work experience in the field of law and real estate helped Martha acquire strong business acumen that was critical to the development of the Barra family's footprint in Mendocino County.
Often referred to as the “Other Martha”, Martha Barra can give Ms. Stewart a run for her money when it comes to entertaining, cooking, decorating and most importantly, running a business! A driving force behind the creation of all of the Barra family's wine brands (Barra and Girasole Vineyards) as well as an organic olive oil line, Martha’s hard work, dedication and keen business sense has helped build global awareness for their family owned and farmed wines.
Martha currently spends most of her time overseeing all the vineyard operations, doing wine dinners and events, working with the winemakers to set flavor profiles, and managing all of the organic certification processes for the vineyards.
Fondly referred to within the family as the “bean counter”, Shawn Harmon joined Martha (mom), and Charlie in the family business in 2002 following a 10 year career as a civil engineer. His formal business and engineering training at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo helped prepare him for a variety of roles in both the vineyard and in the business offices. From the design of irrigation ponds and site development plans to inventory systems and wine tastings, Shawn dove into all aspects of the organization to help streamline business processes that would act as the foundation for future growth.
Fast forward twenty years later, you can still find Shawn wearing a multitude of hats. “Being a small, family run business, you have to roll up your sleeves and take on a variety of responsibilities”, says Shawn. Shawn currently spends his days managing all finance and operations activities surrounding the family businesses, as well as overseeing the family's custom crush and storage business, Redwood Valley Cellars
Shelley’s first taste of the wine business was at the age of 14 on the back of a tractor during harvest, picking leaves out of the bunches of grapes being dumped into the gondolas.
After graduating with a business degree from Santa Clara University, Shelley started her career in sales with magazine publisher IDG, selling advertising space in the world of high tech. A few years later, an impromptu weekend trip (yes, it was sunny!) to the beautiful Northwest led to her relocation to Seattle, Washington and a 10 year sales & marketing career in the music business heading up direct and indirect sales channels, artist relations, direct marketing and public relations.
Following her music gig, Shelley ventured into high tech marketing for several years. Prior to joining the family business at the end of 2006, Shelley was Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for software firm Secure Computing Corporation. “Having the opportunity to apply the last 20 years of work experience to the family business is such a great feeling”, says Shelley. “Like many family businesses, the kids need to go off and prove themselves first…do their own thing." Shelley is responsibile for all sales and marketing activities for the family's Barra and Girasole brands as well as the BARRA of Mendocino Tasting Room & Event Center.