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The DIRT on AP - a winery blog

Ancient Peaks
 
February 28, 2014 | Ancient Peaks

Good Tidings Ahead

Things are looking up as we round the corner into March.

First, some significant rainfall this week is bringing much-needed water to the Central Coast. Yesterday’s storm brought more than two inches to our estate Margarita Vineyard, and the meteorologists say there’s more to come over the next few days.

Also, we are staging two March events—one for the public, the other for our wine club members—that will tantalize your taste buds:

Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival – March 14-16

Get your Zin on as we go all out during the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival weekend! On both days, we will serve complimentary made-to-order artisan grilled cheese sandwiches from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. We are also offering complimentary tours of our estate Margarita Vineyard, with a focus on the diverse soils and marine moderated climate that enable us to craft one of the Paso Robles region’s most acclaimed Zinfandels. These Paso Robles vineyard tours are available by appointment on Friday at 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. To RSVP for a tour, call us at (805) 365-7045. And for more on the festival and related activities across the region, visit PasoWine.com.

Wine Club Artisan Cheese Seminar – March 20 (the first official day of spring!)

Wine club members are invited to join us at our tasting room on Thursday, March 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as we team up with Fromagerie Sophie to explore the art of wine and cheese pairing. Based in San Luis Obispo, Fromagerie Sophie is the Central Coast’s newest artisan “cheesemonger.” Proprietor Sophie Boban-Doering brings a French-inspired flair to her regional cheese offerings, and she will provide a tasty demonstration on how to find the perfect match for a variety of wine styles. The cost is $15 for A-List members and $10 for Six Shooters, inclusive of wine, cheese and good cheer. 

Not a wine club member? Please check out our member lounge to see the array of events and benefits that we offer to members.

Ancient Peaks
 
February 24, 2014 | Ancient Peaks

Digging into Soil Differences

Our estate Margarita Vineyard is blessed with a rare array of five soil types, and these soil differences from block to block have always been notable in the wines they deliver.  

The geographical map pictured below provides a visual explanation as to why Margarita Vineyard is such a ground zero for soil diversity. 

We have cropped the map to show the location of Margarita Vineyard, and all of the black lines you see are fault lines. This abundance of localized faults has churned and turned the terrain over time, which explains why you can see everything from uplifted fossilized sea beds, thick fields of shale, rocky plains of alluvium and more during a short walk through the vineyard. 

Why does soil diversity matter to us? Well, it allows us to build natural complexity into a single estate-grown wine. For winemakers Mike Sinor and Stewart Cameron, it’s like giving them more colors to paint with. 

Starting with the 2013 vintage, we are taking our interest in soil influence to the next level by conducting a more controlled trial of Cabernet Sauvignon lots grown in calcareous ancient sea bed, diablo series clay and Monterey shale. Each lot was farmed the same in terms of crop load and irrigation; harvested at similar ripeness; went through the same fermentation protocols; and was racked to the same barrels (once-used Taransaud barrels with medium+ toast levels).  

In the above video, Stewart provides an update on these lots four months after harvest. And so far, the differences are pretty striking. 

The ancient sea bed lot from Block 15 is showing a deep, dense black fruit character. The diablo series clay lot from the bottom of Block 50 is exhibiting a zingy red fruit quality, while the Monterey shale lot from the top of Block 50 is showing plum and boysenberry with assertive tannins.

Stay tuned, as we will be following these wines to see how they mature from ground to glass, and looking into ways to share the results at special tastings down the line. 

Ancient Peaks
 
February 14, 2014 | Ancient Peaks

The Charm of Terroir

The French concept of “terroir” is something that goes to the heart of Ancient Peaks wines. 

In simple terms, terroir signifies the influence of “place” on a given wine, namely the soil, topography and weather. 

Now, any time you talk about terroir, it comes at the risk of sounding high-minded or pretentious. But that’s not our intent here. Our intent is to simply understand and embrace how a sense of place makes different wines distinguishable and ultimately more enjoyable. 

We believe that our estate Margarita Vineyard is the epitome of terroir. It stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region, with its own distinct microclimate and a rare array of five soil types. 

These singular interconnected conditions, in turn, have a direct influence on the fruit and the character of the resulting wines. 

It’s also worth noting that “place” is not exclusive of “people.” There is a cultural aspect to terroir. Functional vines don’t grow without supervision, and wine can’t be made without guidance from the human hand—a subject that Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor and Winemaker Stewart Cameron discuss in the accompanying video.

Terroir is what separates wine from a mere recipe or formulaic commodity. In that sense, you could say that terroir is what makes wine fun and interesting. And there’s nothing pretentious about that. 

P.S. Come out for one of our Paso Robles winery tours to get a hands-on taste of Margarita Vineyard’s terroir.