Keith Barr, Wine Department Manager at Bristol Farms of La Jolla, found his life’s passion because of his love for his family.
In the year 2000, his son Taylor was joined by his newborn sister Tori. Instead of sending their children to daycare, Barr was bestowed the opportunity to become “Mr. Mom” while his wife Francesca continued with her full-time job.
His days were full with all the traditional homemaker chores including cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. It was the cooking part that took him by storm as to how much he found himself drawn to the pleasure of experimenting with wine and food.
The delight of wine was not a new idea to Barr. Francesca’s family lives in the vineyard-infused area of Paso Robles; and therefore, it had been a part of his life since their marriage 17 years ago. However, now that it was his responsibility to put the food on the table, he started to explore all sorts of pairing ideas. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he was not just a full-time dad, but was in training for his future career as a wine professional.
Now that his children are in school, Barr spends his days with his new baby, the 14-month-old addition to the La Jolla community called Bristol Farms.
As the Wine Department manager, he oversees not only the wine but also perhaps the most unique service the store offers, their weekly wine and food tasting. Each Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. they serve a 3 course meal which typically includes a cheese course or salad, 1-2 meats/mains with sides, and a dessert. Barr showcases five to six 2 oz. pours throughout the affair.
It is rare indeed to first procure a wine, then to create a meal specifically for that bottle. This is exactly what happens at Bristol Farms. Barr’s expertise ensures each guest will not simply be tasting wine with food, but tasting food paired to the chosen wines. The chef works directly with him to understand the subtleties of each wine that will be poured, so the food is tweaked to match it perfectly. The cost for this wine and food feast is a paltry $22.95. Call ahead for reservations (858) 558-4180.
In addition to his food and wine pairing events, he also maintains the vast selections of available wines. Bristol Farms carries more than 3,500 bottles from around the globe.
Barr looks forward to the customers who seek him out when shopping for their wine. “My favorite part of this job is interacting with the customer and teaching them about food and wine pairings,” states Barr. Being approachable for even the most basic of wine selections is a point of pride for him.
If he is not available, grab a copy of “The Grapevine Gazette” - at hand in the wine department or on the Internet at www.bristolfarms.com. It is a conglomeration of reviews by the various Wine Department managers from the larger family of Bristol Farms stores. Each selection is discounted for the month.
They say that if you follow your life’s passion, you will never work a day in your life. Keith Barr loved raising his children, learning about wine and food, and takes this affinity to Bristol Farms each day. “Whether it is at home or at work, my passion is wine. It makes my job easy,” Barr said.