July 13, 2007
Firestone Rolls North

IMGP1558_edited.jpgWhatever happened to Andrew "The Bachelor" Firestone? Well, I just ran into him at his family's new winery in Paso Robles, where the star of one of the earlier and more popular reality TV shows is the general manager.

Though the Firestones are closely associated with the development of the Santa Ynez Valley wine scene in Santa Barbara County, they've been buying grapes in San Luis Obispo County since 2001 and decided they wanted to establish more of a local presence, says Andrew Firestone. Besides, they already had a highly successful brewery in Paso Robles.

All the wines being poured at the Paso Robles facility have been made with Santa Barbara County fruit except for Firestone's first release with a Paso Robles appellation, a bright 2003 cabernet sauvignon that shows the black-cherry side of the varietal with a youthful richness and solid structure ($18).

The winery, at Highway 46 and Airport Road, is just on the edge of downtown Paso Robles. Though Firestone has planted a 4.5-acre vineyard about the structure, urban development is within a stone's throw of the project. "I bet this is the only winery in the country between an RV park and a water park," says Firestone, gesturing to recreational vehicles on one side of his vineyard and a new assortment of water slides just across Airport Road from the winery.

We didn't discuss his romantic life, but it sure seemed that the Firestone tasting room had a disproportionate number of women visitors. And he is one gregarious host, treating stranger and regular alike with beaming enthusiasm.

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