Anthony James LaBarba, a successful Dallas wine merchant, died on Aug. 10 of heart failure. He was 81.
LaBarba was born in Dallas to Sicilian immigrants. His father ran a fruit and vegetable company, and taught his 10 children how to stomp grapes in the wine cellar of their home. By the time he was a teenager, LaBarba was already learning the family business. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, he helped his father buy wine in California, bottling it and sell it.
LaBarba served in the Navy during World War II, then took over his father’s struggling wine business in 1947. By visiting European vineyards and developing a palate for fine wine, LaBarba was able to build up a multimillion-dollar wholesale wine business that sold to all the best restaurants and bars in Dallas.
LaBarba, the former president of American Wine and Importing Co., was also a board member of the Texas Hill Country Wine Festival.