James L. Barrett
November 8, 1926 – March 14, 2013
Jim Barrett came to the Napa Valley in 1972 with one thing in mind, to start a world-class winery. He didn't mind telling visitors, “I wanted to do something to make people happy.
After being discharged from the Navy at the end of World War II,
Jim returned to school to complete his education. Five years later
he had earned a Law Degree from Loyola University in Southern
California. It wasn't long before he had a thriving legal practice,
and was Senior Partner of his firm for over 20 years.
An incurable romantic, he discovered the empty stone chateau and
the dilapidated vineyards at the northern end of Napa Valley, and
decided that Chateau Montelena was the perfect place to realize his
dreams. Jim restored most of the original vineyards and completely
refurbished the winery, completing the "rebirth" of the winery.
The first few years he still lived and worked in Southern
California, so he "commuted" to the winery on a regular basis in
his own airplane. After finally being able to make the move to Napa
Valley, he actively supported many organizations:
Napa Valley Vintners' Association Director - 1984/85/86
President - 1986
Family Winemakers of California Director - 1992
Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors - 1993 to March
N.P.H.I. - Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos International Board of
Directors - 1993 to March 2013
Irish Order of the Wine Geese Member - 1999 to March 2013
When not at the winery, Jim enjoyed spending his time playing
tennis, fly fishing, bird hunting, and skiing.