Brooks and Kate Firestone established Firestone Vineyard as Santa Barbara County’s first estate winery in 1972. Of Brooks Firestone, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “He was a pioneer, an inspirer, and expander of possibilities; he took a chance on an untried wine area, then stuck with it and made it pay.” In 1995, the Firestone family took another pioneering step by establishing Curtis Winery as one of California’s first wineries dedicated exclusively to Rhône-style wines. The name Curtis honors the maiden name of Brooks’ mother. Today, Adam and Kate Firestone advance their family's winemaking heritage as the active owners of Curtis Winery.
Winemaker Chuck Carlson’s winemaking style requires physiological ripeness in the vineyard, followed by minimal processing in the cellar, to ultimately capture the purest qualities of the fruit. “My approach is to work with—not against—what Mother Nature gives us,” Chuck says. “We are blessed to have vineyards that produce incredible fruit, and that’s why I want the inherent flavors to really stand out and define the wine.”
Chuck and his winemaking team employ a modern version of the traditional wooden basket press on their smaller lots. While labor intensive, this type of press ensures gentle extraction to maximize the preservation of pure fruit flavors. Chuck also personally designed the custom tanks that are integral to the winemaking program. These hybrids consist of an open-top fermenter which sits atop a closed-top tank, maximizing winemaking versatility and quality within the confines of our small winery. French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks are used for aging, depending on the vision for each wine. For select lots, however, 40-hectaliter French oak upright tanks are employed; these tanks are used to mature wines that need less direct oak contact but still benefit from the unique properties of wood aging. These are just a few examples of how Curtis invests in preserving and accentuating the inherent fruit character of their vineyards.
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