Like many pilots during the barnstorming era of the 1920s, our Winemaker, Mark, was flying by the seat of his pants when he created this high-flyer. Our best-seller, BARNSTORMER is a medium-bodied red blend of estate grown Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Its character has abundant flavors of black raspberry, cassis and oak.
Who or what is a Barnstormer? In summary, barnstorming can be characterized as pushing both man and machine to their very limits in order to achieve greatness - this is where we find our inspiration. Barnstorming is to aviation like our best-selling Barnstormer is to wine: we push our vines to the their limits in order to produce the highest quality fruit; our winemaker then takes that fruit through every stall, dive, and barrel-roll to produce the finest Estate wines in Texas.
And we do this on the very site of Gray Field - the legendary home of barnstormers in Grayson County.
Barnstorming. The term implies the "storming of a barn", invoking silent film images of planes crashing into, or flying through, a barn as an ill-conceived stunt. We have no doubt this was a stunt tried in reality, as just about everything else was attempted during this era.
Barnstorming can be seen as kind of the third chapter in aviation history. Although, Charles Foster Willard is credited as the first barnstormer (1910), the barnstorming era takes place after WW1. Military-trained pilots had access to affordable surplus airplanes, and could make money performing stunts and selling airplane rides. Barnstorming comes about as pilots would land in fields, use barns as temporary venues, and put on a show. Over time, the shows got bigger, and the stunts more outlandish - barrel rolls gave way to mid-air tennis matches! Barnstorming became highly competitive: pilots continued to push boundaries to dangerous levels. By the late 1920s, several high-profile accidents led to increased government oversight and regulations, effectively ending the barnstorming era.
Charles Foster Willard (October 13, 1883 – February 1, 1977) was an American aviator, and an engineer, who became known as the first barnstormer with his trick flights. Willard was the first person taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss in 1909 and was the 10th person to receive an official pilot's licence. Willard made a number of aviation 'firsts'. In 1910, Willard made the first ever flight over downtown Los Angeles. He was the first person to fly three passengers in the United States. Willard has the unfortunate record of being the first person to have his airplane shot out of the sky by a bullet — that of an annoyed farmer who hit his propeller with a squirrel gun.
At the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet of 1910 Charles Willard took Miss Eleanor Ladd of Boston on a flight. She worked for a Boston newspaper, and was reportedly the first newspaper woman in America to fly in an airplane. During the Airshow Willard also took along Army Lieutenant Jacob E. Finkel, a rifle sharpshooter up in his Curtiss biplane (top left in the photo to the right). As Willard circled the airfield, Finkel fired shots from the airplane at targets on the ground, hitting them more often than not. The “experiment” was considered “highly satisfactory”.
Oh, and here's a freaky coincidence: Charles Willard's father, William A. Willard, was Harriet Quimby's (our Vin Fiz girl) passenger when both were tragically killed in a crash in July, 1912.