2017-10-01 / Restaurants

Tire family broke new ground in California valley


Firestone Winery, in the Santa Ynez Valley. 
Contributed Firestone Winery, in the Santa Ynez Valley. Contributed The Firestone family built a fortune where the rubber meets the road, manufacturing millions of tires for a growing nation of drivers. The family chose to plough some of those millions into the gravelly loam of California’s Santa Ynez Valley, about two hours north of Los Angeles.

As readers may recall, I visited the valley this summer to see the luscious vineyards and wine culture portrayed in the 2004 Alexander Payne film, “Sideways.”

The first major estate winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, Firestone Vineyard & Winery, founded in 1972, was a memorable stop on this tableau of rolling hills, ancient oak trees and steady ocean breezes.

There, warm afternoons and cool coastal evenings, during which temperatures can swing 50 degrees in a single day, are combined with one of the world’s longest growing seasons and a rocky subsoil that drains extremely well, keeping vines healthy year after year.

As they say, the results are in the drinking. Here are a few of the best choices from Firestone Vineyards’ reds with their origins in Bordeaux, nearby Cahors, and the Rhône Valley, and whites originating from Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Germany.

2013 Firestone Vineyard Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley ($20) This is a beautiaroma blended full-bodied merlot designed to deliver an unmatched black cherry, sweet oak and vanilla finish with soft tannins and silky mouthfeel. Serve this wine any time, with anything. It’s just that good.

2013 Firestone Vineyard Malbec, Santa Ynez Valley ($26) Same basic concept as the merlot: A superb blend to bring out the most of the malbec fruit. Mulled spice and vanilla aromas emerge behind flavors of blueberry, black cherry and raspberry. The finish is longer and richer than any malbec you’ll find at this price point.

2014 Firestone Vineyard Syrah Clone 174 Santa Ynez Valley ($40) This has a memorable bouquet of black-cherry fruit in front of notes of black pepper, vanilla, toasted coconut and dark roasted coffee. A rich, luxurious texture and rich tannins provide a balance that delivers a silky, strong oaky finish. Wine Enthusiast rated 91 Points.

2016 Firestone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley ($14) Fermented and aged in stainless steel helps give this 100 percent sauvignon blanc wine a grassy with bright and fruit-forward crispness packed with acidic flavors of lemon, pineapple and grapefruit.

2015 Firestone Vineyard Riesling, Santa Ynez Valley ($15) This is a fun, bright combination of peach, lemon zest and green apple that makes this riesling with 4 percent gewürztraminer a spectacular example of what German wine is all about. Mandarin and jasmine tea round out the palate with hints of honey on the finish.

Wine Question?

If you have a wine question, email it to wine@swspotlight.com and Stephen Simms will answer it in this column.

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