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Spontaneity is the spice of life, so we recently invited our A-List Wine Club members out for an impromptu vineyard walk with a just a few days’ notice—and were delighted when nearly 50 members took us up on it!
On a bright, warm morning, winery co-proprietor Karl Wittstrom led the group on an informative two-mile walk that circled Block 49 at our estate Margarita Vineyard. Along the way, guests got to sample Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah grapes on the precipice of harvest.
Halfway through the walk, Vineyard Manager Jaime Muniz (pictured below) joined the group to share insights into vine canopy management and other viticultural techniques. The walk concluded with morning snacks (including grapes, of course!) in the shade of a large legacy oak.
This is the latest example of how we like to go the extra mile—or two, in this instance—for our wine club members. For those of you who are thinking of joining, check out this chat with our own Nina Leschinsky, who shares the many unique benefits of being an A-List Wine Club member.
Making wine isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be tough and physical—especially during harvest, when the to-do list is long and the hours even longer.
When it comes to making small-lot red wines, one inescapable duty during harvest is the punchdown.
When new red wine is fermenting, the skins float to the top of the fermentation bin, forming a cap that can easily dry out. With a punchdown, you perch yourself on the edge of the bin and use a specially designed paddle to mix the skins back into the juice. This keeps the cap from drying out, and it ensures steady, optimal extraction of color, flavor and tannin from the grape skins. At Ancient Peaks Winery, we perform punchdowns on each small lot three times per day.
In the accompanying video, harvest intern Chris Thompson demonstrates the art of punching down on a lot of Pinot Noir recently harvested from our estate Margarita Vineyard.
Plunging and pulling the paddle through the heavy skins requires exertion, and doing it on multiple bins three times per day requires endurance. Hence the third and final rule of the punchdown: Don’t wimp out!
Our new release 2011 Renegade is already rounding up high praise in the wine media.
On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece on the state of Syrah, and included the 2011 Renegade as one of just six recommended Central Coast Syrahs and Syrah-based blends, noting, "When the grape succeeds, it does so wonderfully, as you'll witness in the bottles here."
Here's how Wine Editor Jon Bonné describes the 2011 Renegade: "A curious mix of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec that pushes the edge on tannin - 28 percent Petit Verdot is a bold move - but also reveals the beauty of Margarita Vineyard's high-elevation limestone soils. Slightly funky, with racy fruit and tobacco and white-flower aspects. Think Cahors on the Central Coast."
It's exciting to have Mr. Bonné and the Chronicle's tasting panel discern the unique sense of place behind the 2011 Renegade, as that's something we really strive to capture in our wines.
Our estate Margarita Vineyard spans a rare diversity of five soil types in one of the Paso Robles region's coolest growing environments. It's important for us to honor these special growing conditions and to make sure they are expressed in the bottle.
For more on the 2011 Renegade, here's a short video featuring Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor:
They say that the best things in life are free—but they also say that nothing’s free anymore.
Well, they’ve got it half right, because we recently hosted our fall A-List Wine Club pickup party, complimentary to all members, and it was an evening to remember!
The event was held in our enchanting Estrada Gardens on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch. The festivities included wine tasting, live music and wood-fired pizza from Cahoot’s Catering. Mother Nature blessed us with warm air and beautiful blue skies, and we were delighted to welcome a crowd of club members to the party.
We take pride in offering a wine club experience like no other. If you aren’t a member yet, we invite you to check out our Member Lounge and signup page—and hope to see you at our next club event!
We were honored to receive the following feedback from some of the attendees at our recent party:
Brenda: Another truly amazing event with Ancient Peaks! The Ancient Peaks family and staff always makes us feel a part of their family. Thank you for everything you do for your wine club members!
Deborah: We had a great time! The AP staff are so friendly and accommodating! Good food and of course the best wine. Thanks for another great event!
Linda: This was so fun! Loved the wine and the food was great! Good friends and music, too...whooo hoo!
The advent of autumn is always exciting here on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, and not only because of the bustling grape harvest at our estate Margarita Vineyard...
Indeed, each fall, our ranch is also proud to host the main event at the annual Savor The Central Coast celebration presented by Sunset magazine.
Savor is the ultimate showcase for the distinctive flavors and farm-to-fork culture of our region. The main event—which spans the weekend of September 28-29 this year—includes an extensive Marketplace featuring local food artisans, growers, wineries, craft breweries, celebrity chefs and more. In-depth wine and cooking seminars are offered throughout the weekend, along with culinary adventure tours (including one hosted by Ancient Peaks—sorry, ours is sold out!).
Celebrity Chef Michael Voltaggio and musician Colbie Caillat are among the top draws for this year's festivities. For foodies and wine lovers alike, this is a can’t-miss Central Coast event.
It’s also a fitting time to recall that Santa Margarita Ranch has been a hub of local hospitality since the 1800s, when then-owner Joaquin Estrada was known for hosting lavish fiestas and rodeos.
Today, we endeavor to extend this legacy of what we call “early California rancho hospitality” with our ecotourism offerings—including vineyard and zipline canopy tours—and ongoing special events.
Along the way, we are proud that Savor The Central Coast has chosen the ranch as its main event venue, and encourage you to come out for a tasty good time.