Barnard Griffin Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, Washington State.



100% Syrah



  • I’ve had this bottle laying around my office for a few months now, and I finally decided (late last night) that it should probably get a review. Normally I wouldn’t review a “cold weather wine” such as the Barnard Griffin Syrah Port in the middle of summer, but I’ve always been of the opinion that fortified wines don’t get the recognition they deserve. Instead, they unfortunately seem to get pigeonholed as “…that stuff your Grandma drinks at Christmas.” 
  • Barnard Griffin was founded in 1983 (I was 3 years old at the time…if you care to know). The name of the winery is taken from the surnames of the owners: Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard.
  • In 1975 Rob Griffin, graduated “Cum Laude” from U.C. Davis with a degree in fermentation science. In 1977, Rob relocated to Washington State as the winemaker at Preston Wine Cellars (it’s worth noting that at this time there were less then ten wineries in Washington State). The 80’s were obviously a busy time for the guy, as he founded the Barnard Griffin brand in ‘83 (with an initial 400 case production) and then in ‘84 he also took on the role of chief winemaker at Hogue. It wasn’t until ‘91 that he decided to go full-time with Barnard Griffin.

  • In a similar way to Champagne, Port should only really be called “true” Port when it hails from Portugal; however, the Barnard Griffin Syrah Port does at least stay true to the Portuguese tradition, by blending-in grape brandy to stop the fermentation.
  • Barnard Griffin’s biggest claim to fame (at least in my book) came in 1993, when their Chardonnay was served at the Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Barnard Griffin Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, Washington State.

Washington State-Wine- MapPlace (click map for larger view)

  • Washington State has been making its way into quite a few of my reviews recently. I can’t say that I planned it that way, it just seemed to happen. The red wines are, on the whole, a great value!
  • Syrah has emerged as the “noblest” of all grapes planted in Washington State. That’s quite a large feat, considering it’s up against the “big boys” (Cabernet and Merlot)!
  • Joint research from UC Davis (California) and the University of Montpellier (France) determined Syrah to be the lovechild of the obscure French grapes of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche.
  • The Syrah grapes for the Barnard Griffin Syrah Port are sourced from two separate vineyards:
    – Vinagium Vineyard on Red Mountain (which is neither red nor a mountain, but it is one of the most respected AVAs in Washington State).
    – Gunkel Vineyard in the Eastern Columbia River Gorge, has been farmed by the Gunkel  family for three generations.

Barnard Griffin Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, Washington State.


No huge surprises, although it’s quite approachable and smooth, making it ideal for newcomers to fortified wine.
Deep, dark and concentrated plum, black cherry and cassis, with fig, raisins, and dark chocolate. Almost a musky “men’s aftershave” aroma (I can’t help what I smell), cinnamon stick and a hint of anise. 18.24% alcohol, making it a perfect nightcap…or maybe I’m just saying that because I happen to be writing this review and drinking this wine at 11:58pm on a Wednesday…

Barnard Griffin Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, Washington State.


Bleu cheese, blueberry/blackberry pie, dried fruit, chocolate mousse, roasted nuts, or a big-dirty slab of chocolate cake.



$17 (click here for a list of distributors by state).

Barnard Griffin Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, Washington State.

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