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Our estate Margarita Vineyard is situated along the flanks of the Santa Lucia Mountains, in the heart of the historic Santa Margarita Ranch.
The terrain here is ruggedly beautiful, with oak savannahs that give way to mixed forestland as you ascend toward the mountain peaks. Not surprisingly, this land home to diverse habitats and an abundance of native wildlife, from bears to bald eagles, wild pigs to deer.
As proud stewards of this land, we are passionate about caring for the environment and its inhabitants. For this reason, in addition to subscribing to sustainable winegrowing and ranching practices, we are taking proactive measures to mitigate wildfire threats—as detailed in a recent story by the San Luis Obispo Tribune. (photo above courtesy SLO Tribune, showing Ancient Peaks co-owner Karl Wittstrom working with Cal Fire)
In additional to directing our cattle herds to graze the grassy fuel in open mountain areas, we are working closely with Cal Fire to map and maintain our fire roads for quick access during a wildfire event. Cal Fire is also allowed to our small airstrip and reservoir water when needed. We are also planning to work with Cal Fire on controlled burns that will clear out accumulated fuel while providing for regenerative forestland growth.
Fires often start along Highway 101 on the other side of the mountain range. By working with Cal Fire, we can help stop these fires before they crest the ridge and grow into wildfires that are potentially devastating for our ranch, our neighboring lands and our community.
Click here to read the full story in the Tribune, which details how Ancient Peaks and other wineries are managing potential wildfires threats in the Paso Robles wine country.
Our estate Margarita Vineyard resides on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which is one of California's oldest continuously operated cattle ranches.
Needless to say, we know a thing or two about horseback riding. In fact, during the branding season, you will see our ownership families riding and roping right alongside ranch manager Jeff McKee and his cowboys.
It is in this spirit that we now offer a unique horseback riding experience for everyone on August 11--and it concludes on a delectable note!
Indeed, we have teamed up with Central Coast Trail Rides for a guided one-hour horseback ride across some of the ranch's most beautiful terrain, with views of mountains, vineyards and oak savannahs. Afterward, we will retire to our tasting room and cafe, where brunch or lunch will be paired with Ancient Peaks wines.
There are two rides offered on August 11: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. followed by brunch, and 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch.
Click here to reserve your saddle. We look forward to riding with you!
At our estate Margarita Vineyard, you will find a rare array of five distinct soil types that bring natural dimension and complexity to our wines.
Margarita Vineyard’s most spectacular soil profile is found along a block that we call Oyster Ridge, where the ground is riddled with petrified oyster shells and scallops that testify to the land’s origins as an uplifted sea bed.
It is a sight so astonishing that Wine & Spirits Magazine called it "perhaps the most dramatically calcareous chunk of earth in the entire state."
Indeed, as you walk along the Oyster Ridge block, you can see the white fossils literally spilling out of the soil, some of them as large as footballs. If you dig a bit deeper, you discover an entire strata of these compressed fossils.
The high calcium content these fossils acts like an amped-up form of limestone, yielding wines with high-toned flavors, pretty aromatics and fine tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are among the varieties that excel in this ancient sea bed, and we make a Bordeaux-style blend called Oyster Ridge that pays tribute to this soil.
When you visit our Paso Robles tasting room, you can see some of these fossils close up, and taste the wines that they produce. You can also take one of our Paso Robles vineyard tours to see Oyster Ridge firsthand. And, of course, you can conclude your visit with a bite at our Paso Robles winery cafe.
We will file this one to perfect timing...
Shortly after we spotlighted our new release 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon in our previous blog entry, we learned of another blog post featuring the same wine. Indeed, our Cabernet Sauvignon was showcased in the Official Whole Foods Market Blog in a piece by Devon Broglie, master sommelier and the global beverage buyer at Whole Foods Market.
Under the title of "More Can’t Miss Summer Favorites," Mr. Broglie wrote: "And you can put Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon up against way more expensive wines any day. A classic Paso Robles cab — dense, ripe, toasty. Yes with a perfectly grilled rib-eye."
Click here to read the full piece, which provides some great insights into other summer picks and trends.
Back in 2005 when Rhône varieties were all the rage in Paso Robles, we took a bet on Cabernet Sauvignon, making it our flagship wine right from the start.
Today, a dozen years later, the bet has paid off, as Cabernet Sauvignon has proven to excel at our estate Margarita Vineyard and continues to be our bestseller in the market.
Of course, Cabernet Sauvignon has had a longtime presence locally, but it has really come on strong over the past decade. As Food & Beverage Magazine summed it up: "Paso’s Cabs are earning more accolades than ever, demand is spiking and wineries are planting more Bordeaux varieties than ever before."
We are proud to be a part of this movement--perhaps most notably embodied by the Paso Robles CAB Collective--and excited at what the future holds.
For now, we will take this opportunity to introduce our new release 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is now available at our Paso Robles tasting room.
The 2015 vintage comes from four distinct blocks at Margarita Vineyard. At Block 50, a mixture of shale and rocky alluvium soils promotes naturally low vigor for the development of dark, intensely flavored fruit. The soils are less rocky at nearby Block 49, where the flavors lean more toward the red fruit spectrum. At Block 11, Block 14 and Block 15, ancient sea bed soils and cooler growing conditions yield fruit with earthier structure and firmer tannins. The qualities of these blocks combine to bring dimension and nuance to the final blend.
Check out the video above to get the full scoop from Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor.
Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be full of hot air! Indeed, that is a lesson learned from an ingenious new tool that is enhancing the fruit and advancing our sustainability initiatives at Margarita Vineyard.
This tool is a new unit from Agrothermal Systems that acts like a giant propane-powered blowdryer attached to the back of a tractor. As you can see here, it is a compact piece of equipment.
By making slow passes up and down the vineyard rows during the spring blooming period, it provides short bursts of warm air that stimulate the young crop’s self-pollination process, resulting in uniform grape clusters. As such, it is a hedge against “shatter,” whereby incomplete pollination can create clusters with under-ripe or missing berries.
This unit is also used to reduce instances of mold and mildew when the young clusters begin to mature. As such, it offers an environmentally friendly solution to help maintain fruit integrity into the heart of the growing season—and it is the latest example of how new technologies continue to help us achieve natural quality in our wines.
If you are looking for a wine that epitomizes Ancient Peaks, it might just be our Renegade red blend, and specifically the new release 2015 vintage now available at our tasting room.
The name Renegade not only speaks to the western heritage of Santa Margarita Ranch, but also to the unconventional "outlaw" nature of the blend itself. This is a wine that is constantly evolving, but the vision always remains the same—to craft a rich, boldly flavored blend that nevertheless exhibits structure and finesse.
Syrah typically leads the way with its rich dark fruit qualities. From there, it all depends on what the vintage delivers. There are no rules, and that is the point. For the 2015 Renegade, the final blend is Syrah 55%, Zinfandel 27%, Petite Sirah 13% and Petit Verdot 5%. Needless to day, it is a blend that defies tradition.
There has been one constant since our first vintage of Renegade in 2009, and that is the fact that it has consistently been one of our highest-rated wines. We invite you to come out to try it at our Paso Robles wine country tasting room in Santa Margarita.
At Ancient Peaks Winery, we are not just winegrowers--we are also longtime local ranchers with deep roots in San Luis Obispo County.
Like our winegrowing experience, our ranching life here on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch is all about responsibly working with the land, and doing so with strong family ties.
On that note, we thought that you might enjoy the above video as a brief glimpse into a day on the ranch.
The wildflowers are blooming, the temperatures are warming and spring is in the air, which means the dry rosé wine season is upon us.
Fittingly, we have just released our 2016 Rosé in our tasting room, and as you can see in the video above, it is full of spring fever.
Modeled after the refreshingly dry rosés of Europe, the 2016 Rosé is made wholly from Pinot Noir from our estate Margarita Vineyard. It seduces the nose with lively scents of pear, green apple, citrus zest and jasmine. A clean, quenching texture is counterbalanced with rounded flavors of dried cherry, strawberry, kiwi and peach. Hints of pink grapefruit linger on a crisp, tangy finish.
Come try it at our tasting room in Santa Margarita, and while you're at it, pair it with a bite from the Ancient Peaks Cafe, one of the best places to eat in Paso Robles.
If our winery was in France, we’d be breaking the law with several of our wines.
Indeed, in the traditional Old World wine regions, the types of grape varieties you can grow and blend are highly regulated (ie: certain varieties are allowed in Bordeaux, others in the Rhone Valley). By comparison, we live in the proverbial Wild West, and we take full advantage of our winemaking freedoms.
Case in point: the imminent new release of our 2015 Renegade. This red blend combines a signature Rhone variety (Syrah), a signature Bordeaux variety (Petit Verdot) and a classic California variety (Zinfandel), along with another variety that has made its name here in the Golden State (Petite Sirah). The idea is to leverage the silky black fruit of Syrah while complementing it with the intensity and structure of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot.
Meantime, our limited-production Blanco white blend combines Chardonnay with Muscat, while the latest vintage of our crown jewel—Oyster Ridge—is a classic Bordeaux-style blend that comes with a signature twist of Petite Sirah. Again, the Petite Sirah adds just a hint of intensity that takes it to the next level.
However, the point isn’t to break from old winemaking traditions just for the fun of it. In fact, these traditions were established precisely because there is a proven synergy between certain grape varieties. As such, these traditions are worthy of respect.
At the same time, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t push the envelope, in recognition of the fact that our growing conditions here at Margarita Vineyard are not only quite different from Europe, but even unique within our home region of Paso Robles.
This is how you end up with a blend like Renegade, which flies in the face of tradition; and Oyster Ridge, which is largely traditional, but still with its own twist.
In other words, sometimes we are faithful to tradition, sometimes we bend the rules, and when it’s best for the wine, we break them.