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On certain wines, such as our Petit Verdot, we make note of aging the wine in “tightly grained” oak barrels, which may raise the question: why does oak grain matter? Let us explain…
The notion of tightly grained wood is fairly self evident. Most woods, including oak, come in different grains, depending on the species and where they are grown. Some are more widely grained, others are more tightly packed.
Now, in the wine aging process, wide-grained oak tends to produce a wine that has a more pronounced oak and wood tannin character. In other words, if you want your wine to taste more oaky, or if you have a powerful wine that needs a more assertive oak balance, you might veer toward wide-grained oak.
On the flipside, tight-grained wood is more restrained in its influence. So if you want the oak character of the wine to be more subtle, then you will choose tight-grained oak for aging.
One example is our aforementioned Petit Verdot. In the words of Winemaker Stewart Cameron, “Petit Verdot has some unique varietal flavor profiles that no other Bordeaux varieties have, and we want to keep those at the forefront of the wine. We don’t want it to taste like French oak, so we choose wood with a tight grain and lighter toasting to produce a wine that is varietally true.”
On a more powerful wine, however, such as our Petite Sirah, Stewart might loosen the reins on the grain to ensure that the oak influence is sufficiently present.
And therein lies the significance of oak grain. Ultimately, it’s just one of many arrows in the winemaker’s quiver for guiding the style of a given wine.
We view our wine club members as part of our extended family, which is why we go all out to offer them some of the best benefits and festivities in the industry. Click here to see some of the many experiences we offer to members.
One of our latest club initiatives is to solicit questions from members about each wine club shipment, and then get thoughts on them from winemakers Mike Sinor and Stewart Cameron.
The result is our new "AP ClubCast." Even if you're not a member, you might enjoy the winemakers' insights on a range of topics, including how long to age wines and what distinguishes our reserve bottlings.
Our next AP ClubCast will be pegged to the September club shipment. Stay tuned...or better yet, join the club and join the fun!
In warmer climates, Sauvignon Blanc veers more toward a riper, more tropical character (think Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc). In cooler climates, it becomes more racy and pungent (think New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc).
Generally speaking, Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc typically exhibits more of a warm climate character, but there are exceptions. Which brings us to our new release 2014 Sauvignon Blanc…
As with previous vintages, the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc reflects ample qualities that you might associate with cool climate Sauvignon Blanc, including notes of gooseberry, lime and mineral.
This is a direct reflection of the vineyard’s pronounced marine influence, as the Pacific Ocean is just 14 miles away. In fact, the vineyard occupies one of the coolest growing areas to be found in the entire Paso Robles region.
At the same time, this wine isn’t quite as racy as its New Zealand brethren. There are sunnier aspects of pineapple and melon that speak to the dry and early Paso Robles growing season of 2014.
We invite you to come sample the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc at our tasting room. It also happens to be our first release featuring the brand new look for Ancient Peaks wines!
It’s reasonable to assume that what you see in the photo above is a little grape cluster, but there’s more than meets the eye.
Yes, it’s a cluster—but not yet a grape cluster. Before it becomes a true grape cluster, it must undergo a process known as “flowering,” which typically takes place in later May through early June.
During flowering, the young clusters shed their hard green caps, revealing blooms underneath. These blooms are designed to self-pollinate. Once fertilization occurs, that’s when you actually have grapes to grow.
This photo was taken a few days ago at our estate Margarita Vineyard, specifically in Block 7, which is planted to Merlot. So what you see here aren’t baby grapes, the rather the hard caps that will soon be shed to reveal the blooms and begin flowering to create new Merlot grapes.
Flowering can be a delicate process. Harsh winds or extreme temperatures can disrupt the pollination process. So during flowering, you hope for steady, mild weather. This fosters a thorough grape “set” for a full, healthy crop.
We invite you to join one of our Paso Robles vineyard tours every Saturday for a close-up look at flowering and other growing phases at our estate Margarita Vineyard.
It’s always nice when one of your wines racks up a towering score of 94 points in a major wine magazine—and even nicer when the accompanying review does poetic justice to what’s in the bottle.
So we are excited to share that we are the happy recipients of one such review as our 2011 Oyster Ridge cuvée racks up 94 points in the latest issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine.
In their words: “From the Margarita Vineyard at the relatively cool, marine-influenced southern edge of Paso Robles, this wine is named for a ridge of pale, sandy soil mixed with prehistoric oyster shells…It’s a wine that channels Paso’s abundant sunlight toward precision and purity rather than richness and concentration…Its bright, compact structure is poised to gain complexity with another eight to ten years in the bottle. Still, it’s already pretty.”
In that short span, the magazine pretty much nailed what sets our estate Margarita Vineyard apart while articulating exactly what we are aiming to achieve with our Oyster Ridge. It’s one thing for us to say it, but quite another to hear a prestigious reviewer echo the sentiments.
Each year, we craft the Oyster Ridge cuvée to honor the rare array of soil types found across Margarita Vineyard. Select blocks are meticulously farmed to meet the standards of the Oyster Ridge program, and the final blend is assembled from only those barrels that exhibit exemplary complexity, structure and aging potential.
We like to say that Oyster Ridge is our finest winemaking effort—and this latest review suggests that we have hit the mark.
Get ready to rock for a good cause as Ancient Peaks and must! charities team up to host a benefit concert on May 17 at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, in tandem with the Paso Robles Wine Festival weekend.
This concert is all about having a good time for a great cause, and it offers a relaxing conclusion to an action-packed weekend.
The concert will be headlined by The JD Project, known for their upbeat original songs and classic rock sounds. The Haute Skillet food truck will be on hand to provide scrumptious fare for purchase, while we will offer our estate wines by the glass and bottle.
The concert takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The entry cost is a minimum donation of $5. The setting will be the ranch’s beautiful Estrada Gardens, which features broad lawn seating. You are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.
Net proceeds will benefit must! charities, a local nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life in San Luis Obispo’s North County by offering hope, compassion, and resources to those in need.
Click here for more details, we hope to see you there!
If you are at all familiar with our winery, you will likely recognize Kristin Muhly (above left) and Nina Leschinsky as two longtime members of the Ancient Peaks family who have been instrumental in our growth and success.
We are now excited to share that Kristin and Nina have been promoted to new positions with expanded responsibilities. Below is the lowdown on what they will be up to...Join us as we raise a toast to them!
Kristin Muhly – National Brand Manager
Kristin transitions from sales and marketing manager to the new position of national brand manager. In this role, she will work more extensively with the winery’s national distributors to grow the winery’s market coverage and penetration. She will also manage distributor goals, develop new sales programs and field numerous related national sales responsibilities.
Kristin is a graduate of Cal Poly with 11 years of hospitality and sales experience in the wine industry. She has been with Ancient Peaks since 2011. “I’m excited about our direction and growth, and I love working for a family-owned winery with such a distinctive sense of place,” she said. “I look forward to getting our wines and message out to more markets across the nation.”
Nina Leschinsky – Director of Consumer Sales
Nina transitions from direct-to-consumer sales manager to the position of director of consumer sales. Her role grows in tandem with a current expansion of the Ancient Peaks tasting room in Santa Margarita. She will oversee the new on-site food program, added visitor space, expanded direct-to-consumer events, hiring and management of direct-to-consumer team employees, and other hospitality efforts.
Nina studied at Cal Poly and started working in the wine industry 14 years ago. She has been with Ancient Peaks since 2008. “It’s been exciting to see the continued growth at Ancient Peaks,” she said. “We have a strong and cohesive team, and it’s great to be a part of it.”
We are excited to roll out a bold new look for Ancient Peaks wines, starting this spring with our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.
As you may know, the name Ancient Peaks is a tribute to the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains that shape pronounced marine climate and rare soil diversity of our estate Margarita Vineyard, which stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region. This strong sense of place is what drives the spirit and style of our wines.
In contrast to our original label, we felt that it was time to bring these peaks to the forefront with a new design that depicts both the grandeur of the surrounding mountains and the varied soil strata that distinguish the land.
In essence, we wanted our label to give you the sense of actually being here. We hope you agree that we hit the mark.
P.S. Click here for a more detailed look at the imagery and information depicted on our new label.
The Los Angeles Times just took note of two upcoming wine events right in our backyard, and included two mentions of Ancient Peaks along the way.
In a piece titled “Three Spring Wine Events,” noted wine writer S. Irene Virbila showcases both the Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo (SLO) Wine Country’s Roll Out the Barrels monthlong celebration in April.
Along the way, Virbila spotlights two related happenings here at Ancient Peaks, specifically our tri-tip sandwich offerings during Zinfandel Weekend, and our Sauvignon Blanc and oyster pairings for Roll Out The Barrels. Here's the lowdown on both:
Zinfandel Weekend in Paso Robles
Come enjoy two local classics—Zinfandel and Santa Maria Style BBQ—as we pair our latest vintage with tri-tip beef sandwiches from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 21-22. At our estate Margarita Vineyard, the Zinfandel grape achieves a rare balance of robust flavors and elegant structure—making it a perfect pairing for the juicy, spicy goodness of Santa Maria tri-tip. Bring your appetite and we’ll see you here. No RSVP required, just come on by.
Roll Out the Barrels in SLO Wine Country
Celebrate our local marine influence on April 11 by enjoying our new release 2014 Sauvignon Blanc paired with local oysters on the half shell from Dorn's in Morro Bay. No RSVP required, cost is $2 per oyster, just come on by between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
We hope that you can come out for one or both of these region-wide events and enjoy our delicious happenings along the way!
In the world of wine, it’s easy to take the act of bottling for granted. Everyone likes to see vineyards and barrels, and to taste the finished product. But who goes out of their way to think about bottling?
Yet for those willing to take a closer look, bottling is, in fact, a fascinating ballet of moving parts. As we get set to bottle our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, here’s a breakdown of what it takes:
First, cases of empty bottles are emptied onto a conveyer. From there, each bottle is sparged with inert nitrogen gas. Since nitrogen is heavier than air, it displaces any oxygen in the bottle.
Next, each bottle is filled along a wheel of 18 individual nozzles for simultaneous and continuous filling. At full speed, it can fill up to 60 bottles per minute, or one every second. And remember that nitrogen? Since it displaced the air from the bottles, the wine doesn’t come into contact with any potentially problematic oxygen as it fills the bottle.
At this point, the process for our Sauvignon Blanc and other screw-capped wines deviates from our corked wines. As the filled Sauvignon Blanc bottles continue down the conveyer, a laser detects each bottle, triggering a drop of liquid nitrogen into the top of the bottle, where it immediately turns into inert gas. That last drop of nitrogen is crucial, because screw-capped bottles have larger head space in the neck compared to corked bottles. The gas ensures an air-free environment to keep the wine fresh and vibrant.
Next, a screw cap is applied, and then crimped onto the bottle. From there, the bottles are labeled under the watchful eyes of quality control staff, who remove any bottles with crooked labels or other defects.
When things are really humming at 60 bottles per minute, our mobile bottling line can produce up to 300 cases per hour. So while bottling may not be the sexiest part of winemaking, it’s certainly action packed, and it’s the final step on the wine’s journey from ground to glass.