Casa Barranca is as much a state of mind as it is a winery and an individual place. Centered around the Pratt House, a meticulously maintained masterpiece of American architecture, the Casa Barranca winery sits atop a gorgeous set of hills above the idyll and mystical town of Ojai, California. A recipient of National Historical Landmark status Casa Barranca, meaning "house of the ravine," was designed in 1909 by Charles and Henry Greene. The Greene's were founders of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, and they designed Casa Barranca for Charles and Mary Pratt of Pratt Institute, and Pratt&Whitney fame. To highlight just how beautiful this place is, Architectural Digest has said of Casa Barranca: "a closer approximation to Shangri-la is hard to image."
For centuries, California's Ojai Valley and surrounding sun drenched hills have provided dramatic scenic beauty, solitude, and spiritual comfort for its inhabitants – from the peaceful Chumash Indians to renowned authors, composers and spiritual leaders. Aldous Huxley treasured Ojai for its inner nature, and J. Krishnamurti called it "the most beautiful place on earth". Inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the Ojai Valley, Frank Capra used it as "Shangri-La" in his 1937 film classic, Lost Horizon.
In 1994 Bill Moses, corporate CEO, investment banker, and serious winemaker purchased Casa Barranca. Bill has restored the luster to the Pratt House and totally revitalized the grounds of Casa Barranca, adding fruit trees, flowers, and of course grape vines. Under Bill's guiding hand Casa Barranca has maintained its Historic Landmark status. In keeping with the humble and pure ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Pratt House and its estate are powered by solar electricity, draw their water from artesian springs and are of course surrounded by an organic vineyard and gardens which are farmed on sustainable, permaculture principles. Casa Barranca makes its wines from organic grapes and either totally eschews sulfites or adds only minimal amounts to its wines. The result is a bevy of delicious, handcrafted wines that recall the best of France's garagiste offerings.
In a good vintage Casa Barranca produces only a little more than 4,000 cases of wine from a host of varietals. Viognier and Chardonnay are the preeminent white varietals here. Both are excellent. However, the purity and delicate flavors of Casa Barranca's 2005 Chardonnay truly sets this estate apart with this varietal in terms of both quality and style. Casa Barranca's most exciting red wines remain their organic, unfiltered Pinot Noir offerings and a luscious Rhône style red called Bungalow Red that has been likened to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Small quantities of good Syrah as well as a forceful, age worthy Cabernet/Merlot blend round out the portfolio. We can hardly wait to see what Bill Moses and his capable young assistant Jean-Benoit will put out next.