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The DIRT on AP - a winery blog

Ancient Peaks
 
May 3, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

New Clusters Bring Next Vintage

This is how a new vintage is born...After winter dormancy, the little buds on the vines break open every spring, a development that is known as "bud break."

From the buds comes the first new growth of the vintage, including young shoots and baby clusters. Soon, the baby clusters will "flower" and self-pollinate to set the crop, and within a few months the young shoots will turn into robust vine branches (called canes) and the clusters will swell in size. 

Our estate Margarita Vineyard is the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA, and occupies one of the region's coolest locations, which makes for a long growing season. In other words, these new clusters are going to take their own sweet time to reach full ripening, but they are officially on their way!

 

Time Posted: May 3, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
April 30, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

Not Your Typical Fossil Fuel

At our estate Margarita Vineyard, we have reduced our fossil fuel consumption through sustainable winegrowing  practices. But ironically enough, the vineyard is becoming renowned for its fossil-fueled wines. Let us explain...

In a section of Margarita Vineyard called Oyster Ridge, the soil is composed of compacted layers of ancient oyster fossils. Here, the fossils are literally spilling out of the ground, testifying to the land’s origins as an uplifted sea bed (some of these fossils are enormous, such as the one pictured here). The result, in the words of Wine & Spirits Magazine, is “perhaps the most dramatically calcareous chunks of earth in the entire state.”

Why does this matter? Because calcium-rich soil is coveted by winemakers worldwide. At Margarita Vineyard, this translates to fruit with high-toned flavors, fine structure and pretty aromatics.

This ancient sea bed is actually one of five soil zones at Margarita Vineyard. Few vineyards boast such a spectrum of geological diversity. This diversity enables us to grow the same varietals in a range of soils, ultimately enhancing the complexity, texture and dimension of the resulting wines.  

All five soil types play a role in our wines—but the ancient sea bed is by far the most rare and dramatic. Come out for one of our Saturday vineyard tours to see it for yourself.

Ancient Peaks
 
April 24, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

Baby Black Bear at Margarita Vineyard

Our sustainability efforts at Margarita Vineyard include maintaining wildlife corridors that allow for interconnected habitats.

Wildlife is consequently abundant on the surrounding Santa Margarita Ranch. Eagles, turkeys, pigs, deer, falcons, turtles and bears are among the many animals that call the ranch home. 

Check out this frisky baby black bear spotted near our Malbec block. Once full grown, this bear will be able to consume more than 50 pounds of grapes in one day. Needless to say, we would prefer if he stayed in the oaks and away from the vines!

Ancient Peaks
 
April 18, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

Spring is a season of renewal in the vineyard—but also a time of potential peril.

Indeed, each April, we are on high alert for morning frosts that can arrive in the wake of bud break, and that can have a devastating impact on the new vine shoots and baby grape clusters.

Thankfully, we have protective measures in place, and we used them just last night after temperatures dipped to 26 degrees in a few blocks at our estate Margarita Vineyard.

We have weather stations throughout the vineyard, and when the temperature begins to plunge toward the freezing point in any of our blocks, our Vineyard Manager Jaime Munoz receives an alert. He and his team then activate the frost protection system, which applies water over the vine. The water coats the new growth and turns to ice, forming a protective barrier—a sort of “igloo” that shields the baby clusters from outside temperatures when they dip below 32 degrees.

We are proud to have invested in a progressive frost protection system that saves water and reflects our commitment to sustainable winegrowing. This system consists of low-flow pulse emitters that spray the water only where it is needed. This saves 30% more water than a traditional overhead rotational sprinkler system.

Time Posted: Apr 18, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
April 8, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

Bottling The Renegade

Here's an early taste of the 2011 Renegade as it goes from barrel to bottle. Look for the 2011 Renegade to be released this summer.

Time Posted: Apr 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Ancient Peaks
 
March 19, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

177 Barrels Later...

Would you like to try a barrel sample of our 2011 Syrah? How about 177 barrel samples? It’s hard work, but someone has to do it…

Indeed, the painstaking approach of our winemaking team was never more evident than when they recently deconstructed our 2011 Syrah.

First, our Cellar Master Octavio and his crew removed all 177 of our Syrah barrels from the barrel stacks, two at a time on racks that were gently forklifted to the ground. Then, Winemaker Mike Sinor and Assistant Winemaker Stewart Cameron tasted every single barrel to assess the quality of each. Because they were spitting, they were still standing!

Two goals were achieved. First, Mike and Stewart determined which barrels will be targeted for our 2011 Renegade blend. Based on what he tasted, Mike reported that “the 2011 Renegade is going to rock.”

Along the way, Mike and Stewart also resolved to create our first-ever Syrah for our White Label reserve tier, which will be made from the best four barrels, and representing just 2.25 percent of our Syrah from the 2011 vintage. That wine should rock, too.

Stay tuned—first for the 2011 Renegade by summer, and then the 2011 Syrah White Label after that.

Time Posted: Mar 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM