Do you watch the show “The Bachelor”? I have fond memories sitting in my dorm suite, munching on popcorn and tuning in every Monday night with my roommates. We glued to the screens Season 1. The show is still on after 20+ years and last month, ABC announced the former Bachelor will be the new host. @firestonevineyard
So what does this show have to do with wine?! Although Andrew Firestone isn’t the new host, he was my favorite Bachelor. My interest in wine really started while watching an episode of Andrew walking his date at the @firestonevineyards I completely fell in love with the vineyard sunset and of course the winemaking process!
So let’s talk about Firestone Winery. It’s the first commercial winery and one of the first vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Founded in 1972 by Harvey Firestone, heir to the Firestone tire fortune, the vineyards contain 6,000 acres of grapevines. Name recognition of the winery increased considerably in 2003 when Andrew Firestone starred on The Bachelor.
Firestone Vineyard really began when Leonard Firestone (son of Leonard Firestone) started growing grapes for wine in the Santa Ynez Valley in the early 1970. Inheriting his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, Leonard recognized the potential of the Santa Ynez Valley for its soil and perfect oceanic climate. The mild climate which allows the grapes to mature slowly over a long period of time, making for well-balanced fruit. The winery grows seven classic grape varieties: Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. My favorite is the Chairman Series Lineage, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (18%), Petit Verdot (17%), Malbec (13%), and Merlot (52%). Lush full of black cherry, spiced plum and espresso on the palate, it ends with a powerful smooth finish. Definitely a bottle to sit in cellar for 5-10 years.
Ask a sommelier to pick a bottle of wine to accompany a piece of dark chocolate and the odds are, they’ll choose a sweet wine. For me, my preference is towards a Grenache and Syrah. We had a chance to pair some sweet treats while tasting @beckmenvineyards 2019 Grenache and 2019 Syrah, both produced using estate-grown organic grapes that are 100% biodynamic certified. In fact, Beckmen Vineyards was the first certified biodynamic vineyards in Santa Barbara county since 2008.
The flavor profile of the Syrah and Grenache carries black fruits, peppery, smoky, herbaceous and of course chocolate notes that balances out the tannins in the dark chocolate. When the chocolate melts into the tongue against the wine, it really accentuates the soft tannins at the finish! Scroll right to see the bottles.
If you’re a fan of Rhône varietal wines, Beckmen’s portfolio spans 27 different wines ranging from Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, Marsanne, Syrah and Grenache. The Grenache and Syrah are both produced from grapes on the Purisima Mountain vineyard. With an elevation reaching 1,200+ feet, the farming is one of the most challenging hillside vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. This high elevation is what makes their wine so special because the fruit is so flavored you can enjoy now or let it sit in the cellar for up to 15 years.
So if you are in the Los Olivos area, make sure to put Beckmen on your list. The grounds are so beautiful and I really do feel like I’m at Monet’s Lily Garden in France.
Getting into the Halloween spirit and into character as a Danish wino here Lincourt Vineyards. Sitting in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, Lincourt is located in the quaint town of Solvang, “Danish Capital of America.”
Founded in 1996 by Bill Foley, who also owns @firestonevineyard the winery is named after Bill’s daughters Lindsay and Courtney. Lincourt is set amidst the majestic wine country foothills of Santa Ynez Valley surrounded by flower gardens and a vineyard backdrop. The property retains the rural charm with the farmhouse and the barn converted into a winery and barrel room. What made the tasting experience stand out from others was the live band playing all of our favorite 80’s and 90’s songs as we savored the wine and views.
Many wineries will say “we are committed to excellence in winemaking,” but Lincourt wines really deliver at a reasonable price point. They’ve got two Pinot Noirs produced in Burgundy style I really enjoyed. The Two Sisters” Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills was my favorite. Dark ruby hued, this wine’s bouquet had smoky cherry aromas with flavors of strawberry, dark cherry, mushroom, oak spice and pepper that’s nicely balanced and very smooth at the finish. Great value $<40 a bottle. Lincourt Vineyards is a member of the Foley Food & Wine Society and as a FFWS member, you can earn points for every dollar you spend. It’s like the Starbucks Rewards program for coffee lovers, but wine!
No matter how busy you are, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. I’m here appreciating the beauty Fess Parker Winery and taking it easy (literally) sipping their California Rhône Blend called “The Big Easy.” A robust, yet very drinkable blend of Syrah (53%), Petite Sirah (15%) and Grenache (32%), you get aromas of dark fruit, sage, vanilla and oak with a peppery eucalyptus finish. With The Big Easy, Fess Parker pays homage to New Orleans, which has been great supporters of their wines.
A little history on the winery. Named after its founder and TV icon (known for his Disney role as Davy Crockett), Fess Parker left Hollywood in the 1980s for Santa Barbara county. He had originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers, but according to his daughter, Ashley, he doesn’t do anything small! In 1998, the Parkers bought the landmark Grand Hotel in Los Olivos, which they turned into Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn & Spa. Today, that’s a powerhouse project that includes hotels in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley and a thriving ranch and cattle business.
In recent years, the winery has sharpened its focus to produce more small-lot, vineyard-designated wines made from high-quality Rhône and Burgundian varietals. During my visit, I also tasted four other wines and brought home a few bottles! Scroll right for pics and below for the tasting notes.