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Our Family

Ancient Peaks Winery is a partnership between three local winegrowing families who are inspired to craft remarkable wines from their jointly owned Margarita Vineyard. Following are the owners and individuals behind the daily operations in the vineyard and in the cellar.

Karl Wittstrom

Karl Wittstrom oversees the daily management and operations of Ancient Peaks Winery. Karl is an entrepreneur, winegrower, rancher and longtime Paso Robles area resident who was raised amid his family’s ranching and farming business. Karl is a director of the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, and he is a member of the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Farm Bureau and a past director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. He oversees his own family vineyard and co-owns Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery. 

Doug Filipponi

Doug Filipponi is a longtime local winegrower and Paso Robles native who oversees all vineyard operations for Ancient Peaks Winery. Doug was named “Wine Industry Person of The Year” by his wine industry peers at the 2006 California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles. He is also the president of Filipponi & Thompson Drilling, a past president of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, and a past chairman of the Paso Robles Wine Festival. Doug is co-owner of Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery. 

Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi oversees strategic planning and development for Ancient Peaks Winery. Rob is a local entrepreneur and businessman with varied interests throughout the Central Coast. Rob is a newcomer to the wine industry, having introduced Robert Mondavi to Santa Margarita Ranch in 1999. Rob’s interests emphasize historic renovations and reuse projects, which have included the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo and Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. He co-owns Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery. 

Mike Sinor
Director of Winemaking

Mike Sinor is recognized as one of the Central Coast’s highest-rated winemakers (96 points - Wine Spectator; 95 points – Connoisseur’s Guide; 92 points – Wine Advocate; 92 points – Wine Enthusiast; 92 points – Wine & Spirits). His winemaking career on the Central Coast spans more than 20 years. At Ancient Peaks Winery, Mike directs the quality and style of the wines, and he also oversees viticultural practices at the winery’s estate Margarita Vineyard. His first complete vintage with Ancient Peaks was 2006. “The opportunity to work with Margarita Vineyard is what really drew me to Ancient Peaks,” Mike says. “It stands apart as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region. The growing conditions here are remarkable—and that’s something I’m driven to reflect in the wines of Ancient Peaks.”

Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins
VP of Operations

As the Vice President of Operations for Ancient Peaks Winery, Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins oversees sales and marketing, companywide budgeting, long-range planning, human resources and special projects.  She grew up in a ranching and farming family in Paso Robles.  Amanda attended Cal Poly University working in vineyards and tasting rooms while in school.  After graduating college she soon realized that her passion and love was selling and marketing local agriculture.  Amanda joined the Ancient Peaks team in 2006 when the company began, and has worked her way up to VP of Operations.  Amanda is a current board of director for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and a past board of director for San Luis Obispo Wine Country and Visit San Luis Obispo County.

Stewart Cameron

Stewart Cameron oversees our daily winery operations and is involved in all facets of winemaking at Ancient Peaks along with Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor. After studying cellular and molecular biology in college, Stewart moved to San Luis Obispo. Here, he was struck by the beauty of the surrounding wine country, and he soon found himself drawn to the wine industry. He caught the winemaking bug while working in a winery lab in Paso Robles, and he later joined Ancient Peaks in 2006. He worked his way up to the position of assistant winemaker and was promoted to winemaker in 2013, demonstrating an innate talent for winemaking along the way.

Nina Leschinsky
Direct to Consumer Sales Manager

Nina Leschinsky oversees our direct-to-consumer sales programs, including our tasting room, events and wine club. After developing an interest in hospitality while studying business and French at Cal Poly, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked in sales and brand marketing for the Kimpton Group family of boutique hotels. She later returned to the Central Coast to further pursue her interests in food and wine. She spent several years as the tasting room manager at Wild Horse Winery before joining Ancient Peaks Winery in 2008. Since then, Nina’s expertise has helped drive substantial growth in our direct sales programs.

Kristin Muhly
Sales & Marketing Manager

Kristin Muhly coordinates the sales and marketing of Ancient Peaks wines. She was born and raised in San Luis Obispo. She earned her Ag Business and Wine & Viticulture degree at Cal Poly, and has worked in the wine industry ever since. Her experience includes stints at Justin Winery, Vines of Mendoza, Domaine Alfred and the Crimson Wine Group. At Ancient Peaks Winery, Kristin has a guiding hand in all of our sales and marketing efforts, including social media, online marketing and distributor relations. She has been known to pitch in during harvest, too.

Erin du Fresne
Wine Club Manager

Erin manages all facets of our A-List Wine Club, leading our quest to offer one of the most exciting and rewarding wine clubs in the industry. Erin earned her agricultural business degree at Cal Poly with a minor in viticulture, and has been immersed in the wine and food industry ever since. After college, she worked the harvest in New Zealand. She then spent five years as a hospitality and event manager at another local winery before becoming the food coordinator at the World of Pinot Noir. At Ancient Peaks, Erin oversees wine club events, member outreach, shipment coordination and more, with an emphasis on developing creative and educational member experiences.

Kristofer Jones
Southern California Sales Specialist

Kris manages our dynamic distributor network across the Southern California region from Los Angeles to San Diego. He acts as a hands-on resource for key accounts and distributor representatives while showcasing the Ancient Peaks brand at special events. Kris studied business administration at Cal Poly, and has since racked up nearly 10 years of territory wine sales experience. In his spare time, Kris is a baseball enthusiast, outdoorsman, and best friend to his dog Luther. “I’m really proud to be part of the Ancient Peaks family, and to spread the word about this great operation and unique property,” he says. “I get to meet interesting people, and create lifelong relationships along the way.”

Chris Thompson
East Coast Sales Specialist

Chris represents Ancient Peaks Winery in the growing markets of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Prior to joining Ancient Peaks, he served as a wine consultant for The Country Vintner in North Carolina, one of the nation’s premier fine wine distributors. His experience in wine sales and distribution spans more than eight years. Chris is a classically trained chef as well as a 2nd level Somm and holds a degree from Johnson & Wales University. In the fall of 2013, he headed west and worked for us as a harvest intern to learn winemaking from the ground up (pictured here punching down). He is now charged with taking our East Coast distribution to the next level while growing the visibility of Ancient Peaks.
Official Winery Dog

Duke is the winery’s resident beagle and office watchdog for Winemaker Stewart Cameron. Duke was born during the 2008 harvest, and is now known for his dashing personality and mischievous exploits. His hobbies include eating, playing catch and chasing any cellar work who dares to taunt him. Duke can be a howler, and he greets newcomers with a bark—but his tail starts wagging once he gets to know you. Click here to check out Duke's own video!