For a truly unique wine tasting experience, get off the beaten path on Foxen Canyon Road and check out Curtis Winery ~ one of the first wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley to push the envelope with Rhone-style wines.
The highly touted Firestone family established the first estate winery in Santa Barbara County in 1972, later creating Curtiss Winery to showcase their Rhone wines. Today, the true Rhone Rangers are Curtis Winery‘s wine grower Chuck “Calypso” Carlson and winemaker Ernest Storm. Together they bring France’s renown Rhone Valley wines to Santa Barbara County.
Curtis Winery is a little understated, but worth a stop. Belly up to the bar for a tasting of six artisan Rhone-style wines for only $10. The staff is not overly friendly, and the tasting bar is short on space, but the wines are certainly worthy.
The Heritage Estate series wines are superb and reasonably priced. Earning 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, the 2011 Heritage Blanc is a refreshing summery blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussane with bright flavors of apricot and pear.
Also noteworthy is the 2012 Heritage Rose‘s blend of Mouvedre, Grenache and Cinsault emitting a fragrant honeysuckle bouquet, slightly fruity, with watermelon rind and red apple, refreshing yet surprisingly dry.
Best of all is the 2010 Heritage Cuvee –earning 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. An artful blend of Mouvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah with warm aromas of red cherry, pomegranate, roasted paprika and leather.
Bring a picnic lunch and relax on the sprawling grounds at Curtis Winery, beneath the trees and pretend you’re in France in the Rhone Valley! www.curtiswinery.com