I am not a fan of corporate wines. That is something most people in the wine trade know all too well. I am not a fan of large-scale wineries, even if they are run family-owned. They don’t need my help in getting attention for their wines. They have marketing people for that. Firestone Vineyards fell into that category. Don’t get me wrong. They are really nice folks. I have nothing against them. I prefer to seek out smaller wineries to write about.
The Firestone family owns Curtis Winery in Santa Ynez Valley. Brooks and Kate Firestone opened up the winery in 1995 to produce Rhone-style wines, mostly syrah, grenache, and viognier bottlings. Brook is the grandchild of the original Firestone Vineyards owner and the heir to the Firestone Tire fortune. His son is Andrew, from the reality tv show The Bachelor. Yeah, Andrew kind of pretended to be a winemaker and occasionally poured wine at the tasting room. As a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kinda guy, that wasn’t a story I was interested in writing about.
But the wines were often awesome. The Firestones pulled in winemaker extraordinaire Chuck Carlson to make the wines, and the bottles just kept getting better and better. Then they closed their doors on March 31st, 2014. The 2010 Heritage Cuvée was sold off to the PLCB for pennies on the dollar, and the rest of the wine was sold off into different channels, mostly flash wine sites. The move was sudden, and the reasons unknown.
This is where I change my mind about Firestone. They immediately leased the winery and vineyards to one of the most awesome winemakers in the region, Andrew Murray. According to my sources in the Santa Barbara wine trade, the Firestones offered Andrew a sweet deal as long as he retained most staff. Whatever the reason for the selloff and winery closing, it’s amazing that the Firestones insured their people would remain employed.
Wine Review of Curtis Winery 2010 Heritage Cuvée:
The wine regions in Santa Barbara County are well-known for their ability to grow top-notch Mediterranean grape varietals. This bottle is yet more proof. On the nose, pain grille, garrigue (yes, these are Wine School terms), and ripe plum are in full force. On the palate, layers of fresh raspberries, fennel, and burnt cedar lead into cinnamon and sweet vanilla. A Rhone-style blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah aged in oak for a year. Medium-bodied with medium tannins, which really shows in the finish. This will drink well for the next six years, but I’d plan to drink it for maximum enjoyment in the next 24 months. 91 points.