Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 39

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Wine that salutes: Jarhead Wine Co. makes robust reds that honor vets, young and old


Like the very best wines, some homecomings are meant to be savored. When U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Nick Firestone returned home to the Santa Ynez Valley after a 10-month deployment in Afghanistan last November, his parents, Adam and Kate Firestone, were overwhelmed with elation.

“When his mother gets to hug him, safe and sound, we all exhale,” Adam said of the warm reunion.

Homecomings in the Firestone household include laughter, family dinners, and the celebratory popping of a few corks.

The net proceeds from Jarhead Red Wines, owned by winegrower and former Marine Corps Capt. Adam Firestone, are donated to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

Everyone knows that wine can bring people together for a moment of shared joy. Adam, a former Marine Corps captain, believes wine can change the world. As owner of Jarhead Wine Company, he’s already touched the lives of dozens of veterans across the Central Coast and beyond.

Jarhead Wine Company’s mission is beautifully simple: to craft robust, approachable red wines in support of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational assistance to the children of U.S. Marines. All net proceeds go toward this cause, with particular attention given to children of fallen and injured servicemen and women—more than half a million dollars in direct cash since Adam’s first unveiling of the wine at the annual Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s Birthday Ball in 1999.

Aside from a whole lot of financial support, the wine project has also given the foundation something truly invaluable: a way to capture people’s imagination.

“Jarhead Wines has really given the foundation a talking point, bringing depth and interest to the cause,” Adam said. “Having the wine has helped them have a tangible focal point that draws donors in.”


It’s also a pretty darn good wine, to boot.

The most recent vintage, 2011, is overflowing with grapes sourced from Central Coast vineyards—specifically merlot from Paso Robles and petit verdot from the Santa Ynez Valley. Adam believes the wine should bring “everyday enjoyment,” and he suggests pairing the friendly bottle with such downhome standbys as grilled steak, barbecued chicken, or a beefy, cheese-laden burger.

With aromas of plum, cherry, and spice—and a broad, juicy finish—the offering is a crowd-pleaser, to be sure. Note: A chardonnay was also added to the lineup in 2010, and yes—Marines do like to eat fish, according to Adam.

The third-generation winegrower and former captain in the Marine Corps (he served from 1984 to 1991) currently oversees his family’s winemaking endeavors in the Santa Ynez Valley as well as Firestone Walker Brewing Company, which he famously founded with his brother-in-law, David Walker.

Together with his old Marine buddy Ruben Dominguez, a former sergeant in his own right, the pair works hard to do good.

Last September, Jarhead Wine Company funded flights for 10 Central Coast World War II veterans who were flown to Washington, D.C., through the Honor Flight Network. The veterans, many in their 90s and up, are given the opportunity to visit memorials erected in their honor.


“For many of them, it is their first time seeing these memorials,” Adam said. “It’s amazing the impact it has. People in the airport terminals are touched by what they are seeing as these veterans come through. For our generation, it’s hard to appreciate what the these veterans went through.”

Another flight honoring the Central Coast chapter is slated for May. Although the flights require a massive logistical effort—EMTs must be present during the trips, and many of the veterans can become easily stressed by the rollercoaster that is airline travel—Adam said nothing can repay what these older vets have sacrificed.

 In many ways, Jarhead Wines and its mission harkens back to the kinds of public service that so many Americans once engaged in. World War II spurred Americans from all walks of life to band together to ration goods, purchase war bonds, and take care of the home front.

“Many Americans didn’t go to Germany or Japan; they did get involved,” Adam said. “The act of ‘pulling together’ was an all-encompassing experience for our country. That chapter in our history has fallen away, but the honor flights and what we’re trying to do with Jarhead Red really bring awareness and respect to these proud veterans.”

Wines of character

Order your own bottle of Jarhead Red Wine, view a list of local retailers, or “enlist” in the wine club by clicking over to jarheadred.com/purchase. Not sure how to enjoy Jarhead Red? Do like Firestone does: Raise the first glass to toast those who have fallen. Then, toast to the United States and the Commander in Chief. Finally, toast to the health of the Marine Corps. Enjoy with your family, fellow Marines, and civilians of every ilk.


Hayley Thomas is feeling waves of 
gratitude at hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

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What are your Thanksgiving plans this year?

Traveling to be with family.
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