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Wine and Roses

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Andrew Firestone went into the third round of The Bachelor, premiering March 26, hoping to find his princess. And maybe a farmhand. Whoever accepts his proposal may one day marry into a wine-growing branch of the wealthy Firestone family (yes, the tire people), but life on the family vineyard in California’s Santa Ynez Valley is hardly Falcon Crest 24/7. “We work in the fields,” says Firestone, a 27-year-old San Francisco currency sales executive who devotes two weekends a month to Firestone Vineyard, founded by his father, Brooks, 66, in 1975. “One of the things I was looking for in this show was a woman who wouldn’t be afraid to get her hands dirty, who could wear blue jeans during the day but a cocktail dress at night. Because we also do a lot of entertaining.”

Granted, it isn’t easy to meet a Grace Kelly willing to stomp on grapes in her bare feet. But why would a true millionaire eligible bachelor with such a pedigree (his mother, Catherine Boulton Firestone, 67, is a former soloist with Britain’s Royal Ballet) turn to ABC to help him sprout a few new twigs on the family tree? “He’s just a choosy individual,” says insurance salesman and old University of San Diego buddy Kevin Krystofiak, 26, Firestone’s roommate in a two-bedroom San Francisco rental. Wary too. “A lot of times,” says Firestone, who has had two long-term relationships, “I’ll meet women who want to date my last name or want to date the guy whose family owns the vineyard. Sometimes I almost want to change the ‘Firestone.’ ”

It helps, he adds, that the 25 women vying for his attentions at the Malibu mansion where The Bachelor finished taping last month started out knowing nothing about his lineage. Still, his anonymity was short-lived. “It comes out in episode 2, the night of the first party,” says co-executive producer Lisa Levenson. “It creates quite a stir.”

How does it all end? Not even Firestone’s relatives and friends have been clued in. “I think they are going to be so excited for me,” he says. Though perhaps not so surprised. On the show his family “plays a huge part,” says host Chris Harrison. Bringing his final picks home to meet them—including two older sisters and a brother—”ended up making a big difference in his decision.” For this Bachelor, it may well be that family knows best: After all, says Firestone, “my parents have been married for 44 years.” And thanks to them, he won’t have to put a down payment on a wedding chapel. “We had 22 weddings booked on the grounds last year,” he says, looking out on the softly rolling green hills. “I’ve got the location.”