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The DIRT on AP - a winery blog

Ancient Peaks
 
December 2, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

The Grinch Gives Back at Ancient Peaks

The Grinch may have stolen Christmas, but he is about to give it back as we host a family showing of the holiday cartoon classic at our Oyster Ridge event barn in Santa Margarita on Sunday, December 11 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is complimentary. However, we ask that each attending family bring a new or gently used jacket to be donated to Coats for Kids of San Luis Obispo County, a charity that provides vital attire to children in need. Alternatively, those families who are unable to provide a jacket may bring a new or gently used children’s book to donate.

The festivities will include a showing of Dr. Seuss’s original “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon movie. Complimentary popcorn, hot cocoa and cookies will be provided. Ancient Peaks wine will also be available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting must! Charities.  

“This event is a great way to get in the holiday spirit, have fun with the family and make a difference in the lives of local children,” says Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, our VP of operations. “It will be an afternoon to remember for the whole family.”

We would like to thank the following event co-sponsors: All About Events, Vino Vice and Miner’s Ace Hardware.

Directions and RSVP: www.ancientpeaksgivesback.eventbrite.com

Time Posted: Dec 2, 2016 at 1:57 PM
Ancient Peaks
 
November 28, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

Manzo'd with Margarita Vineyard

At the time, we had to keep it under wraps, but now the word is out on national television!

Indeed, last summer we had the privilege of hosting the Manzo family of the hit Bravo reality television show "Manzo'd with Children." 

It was all part of an episode featuring a Manzo family vacation with a birthday celebration right here at our estate Margarita Vineyard and the surrounding Santa Margarita Ranch. Not only did they enjoy a meal from our Ancient Peaks Café, they also got to soar across the ziplines of our affiliated Margarita Adventures.

“It was really a fun day,” says Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, our VP of operations.  “The Manzo family was kind, witty and really down to earth. Building special memories is what Ancient Peaks and Margarita Adventures are all about, and I think we accomplished that.”

The resulting episode just aired. You can click here to watch the episode online, or search for "Manzo'd with Children Episode 8 California Dreamin'" on Amazon or other on-demand providers. 

Here’s how the episode teaser puts it: "The family vacation continues on Lauren's birthday and Vito has pulled out all the stops to plan a special day. Much to Caroline's dismay, Vito booked a zip-lining excursion high above a beautiful vineyard..."

Spoiler alert: they had a blast!

We really enjoyed our time with the Manzo family, and are thrilled to be featured in their show. 

Time Posted: Nov 28, 2016 at 7:21 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
October 28, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

A Happy Halloween Tale


When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But when you get too many pumpkins, well, that’s when things need to get really creative. 

Such was our dilemma when we were faced with an unexpected bumper crop of pumpkins here on the Santa Margarita Ranch. Then the light bulb went off: rather than plow the gourds under or let them rot, what if we could find them some happy homes?

With that thought, our staff got in the spirit and mobilized, stuffing their vehicles with pumpkins and hitting the road. 

Click here and here to read a few local media stories about what happened next. We were overjoyed and touched by all the little smiling faces we were met with along the way, and thrilled to see our pumpkins land in happy hands.

Time Posted: Oct 28, 2016 at 8:27 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
October 17, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

The "CowParade" Comes to Ancient Peaks

We are proud to share that Ancient Peaks has joined the CowParade “moo-vement” with a striking sculpture of Cinnamon, the legendary cow that roamed our Santa Margarita Ranch for 32 years.

More than 75 cities and 200 million people worldwide have participated in the CowParade, which is recognized as one of the most successful art endeavors ever. Now it is San Luis Obispo County’s turn, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. 

CowParade SLO County gives local artists a chance to showcase their talents on a global stage. Our sculpture was created by Lon Etzel, who portrayed Cinnamon’s distinctive opposing horns while using the torso as a canvas to depict signature Santa Margarita Ranch experiences, including winegrowing and ziplining. There is also a nod to the ranch’s historic role as part of California’s famed mission trail. 

The CowParade exhibit will be on display through April. Visit CowParadeSLO.com for a map of the more than 100 sculptures that can be enjoyed across the county. 

Time Posted: Oct 17, 2016 at 12:52 PM
Ancient Peaks
 
September 22, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

2016 Pre-Harvest Report


While the harvest action is starting to reach its peak around Paso Robles, things remain relatively quiet here at our estate Margarita Vineyard.

“A lot of wineries are getting through their Cabernet Sauvignon picks right now, but not us,” says Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor. “Which is normal—those guys go, and we watch and come afterwards.”

Winemaker Stewart Cameron sums it up succinctly: “We don’t pick Cabernet this early. September and Cabernet equals ‘no’ for us.”

In other words, it’s business as usual at Margarita Vineyard, which occupies the Paso Robles region’s coolest growing environment, resulting in a long, late growing season.

“We got accustomed to things being a bit earlier the last few years, but right now we’re very much back to normal,” Stewart says. “We’ve picked some of the typical early varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but not Zinfandel, Merlot or Cabernet.”

“It’s going to be an October through early November harvest for us,” Mike adds.

The crop load is more vigorous compared to last year, owing to added winter rainfall. The overall yields, however, are not particularly high. “On Cabernet in particular, it seems to be a bit light,” Mike says.

Additionally, the Cabernet berries are small as usual (see photo above): “That’s one of the signature traits we see here with Cabernet, these small berries that provide rich, concentrated flavors,” Mike says.

Yet while it’s still largely wait-and-see time at Margarita Vineyard, that doesn’t mean the winemakers are taking it easy.

“Stewart and I were out in the vineyard yesterday, and we’re back here today,” Mike says. “We’re not waiting for the sugar samplers to bring their stuff to the barn and write it down. We’re out there looking over their shoulder, asking ‘What do you got?’ It’s a time of high anticipation.”

Time Posted: Sep 22, 2016 at 8:45 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
August 20, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

The Tail End

Geographically speaking, our estate Margarita Vineyard is at the tail end of Paso Robles, as it is the southernmost vineyard in the region.

But it’s also at the tail end in an agricultural sense, as it is one of the last vineyards to be harvested each year. The reason is simple: Margarita Vineyard occupies one of Paso Robles’ coolest environments—the Pacific Ocean is just 14 miles away—which translates to a long, late growing season.

Consequently, Margarita Vineyard is only just now entering the heart of veraison—the process whereby the grapes turn color and transition from the growth phase to the ripening phase (pictured above). Meanwhile, in many parts of Paso Robles, veraison is already completed. “Everything happens later here,” says Winemaker Stewart Cameron.

Yet while this means that the winemaking team will once again have to bide its time while other wineries start harvesting later this month, Stewart is not complaining.

As he explains, while a longer growing season does create a bigger window for inclement fall weather to potentially disrupt the harvest, the advantages of being late are significant. “With a long season like ours, there’s more time for the fruit not only to develop sugar ripeness, but also phenolic maturity and overall balance,” Stewart says.

In other words, when you taste Ancient Peaks wines, there is an undeniably direct connection between Margarita Vineyard’s singular climate and the correspondingly unique character of the wine. 

Time Posted: Aug 20, 2016 at 7:26 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
July 29, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

Paso Shines in Sunset


We mentioned earlier that Ancient Peaks was named as one of just four finalists in the category of “Best Vineyard / Tasting Room Experience” for the 2016 Sunset Travel Awards.

Now, the final results have been published in the latest issue of Sunset magazine, and it has been revealed that Paso Robles took the title of Best Wine Country Town!

Here's what they wrote about Paso Robles: "The vibe is nothing if not laid-back. The historic town square is circled by shops and chef-owned restaurants. Highway 46 is a bucolic drive with more than a dozen wineries that pour in barns, cafes, underground caves, and cattle ranches."

Better yet, in the accompanying print story the Ancient Peaks experience was included as a highlight for the region. 

Needless to say, we are thrilled to be recognized as one of California’s top winery guest experiences by such an esteemed publication, and equally excited to see our home region of Paso Robles in the spotight. 

Time Posted: Jul 29, 2016 at 4:11 PM
Ancient Peaks
 
June 8, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

Blanco: Unconventionally Refreshing


Just in time for summer, we have released our 2015 Blanco, a refreshing blend that pairs perfectly with warm afternoons and good times, not to mention several dishes offered at our Ancient Peaks Cafe. 

Now available in our tasting room, this limited release (330 cases produced) wine is an unconventional union of Chardonnay and Muscat from our estate Margarita Vineyard, and specifically from vines planted to soils of granite and rocky alluvium. These stony soils, combined with cold fermentation and aging in stainless steel, yield a lusciously textured wine with a bright, fruit-forward character. 

In the final blend, the Muscat provides a foundation of high-toned fruit, while the Chardonnay adds a measure of richness and complexity. 

The 2015 Blanco's clean, quenching texture delivers flavors of peach, nectarine and lime with a suggestion of tropical fruit. The finish starts tangy and brisk, but ends with a lingering touch of viscous roundness. This is a wine to be enjoyed in its youth. Suggested pairings include classic summer picnic fare, cilantro lime grilled chicken, filet of sole, and mixed citrus green salad.

Come by our tasting room to try the 2015 Blanco, or better yet, hang out and have a glass with a sandwich or salad from our cafe.

Time Posted: Jun 8, 2016 at 12:40 PM
Ancient Peaks
 
May 11, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

Renegade on A Roll


Our 2013 Renegade red blend is on a roll right now…

In The Tasting Panel magazine, Anthony Dias Blue gave it 91 points, while California Grapevine followed with a 90 point rating and a “very highly recommended” designation. Laurie Daniel of McClatchy Newspapers named it her “Wine of The Week,” and we just got word of another high score around the corner. 

We call Renegade our “outlaw” blend, as it is an unconventional union of Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot from our estate Margarita Vineyard. We asked winemakers Mike Sinor and Stewart Cameron to share their thoughts on the latest vintage:

What is Renegade, and what sets it apart?

Mike: It revolves around Syrah for its lusciousness and up-front fruit. But it also relies on Malbec for mid-palate juiciness and Petit Verdot for structure. So it has a lot of power and up-front fruit, but it finishes with a sense of focus and balance. 

Stewart: I think it’s the structure that sets the wine apart. It rings all of the bells of a yummy Rhone-style blend, but it’s that Bordeaux-like firmness on the back end that brings it all together in a unique way. 

What stands out about the 2013 vintage?

Mike: The weather was just perfect in 2013, particularly for Syrah. We got all of these big, rich flavors, but it still had quite a bit of backbone. 

Stewart: The 2013 vintage marks the highest percentage of Syrah we’ve included in Renegade so far. Each year, it’s about making the best blend possible from these three varieties by deferring to the personality of the vintage. From that perspective, Syrah really merited playing the lead role this time.   

We invite you to come by our tasting room to for a taste of the acclaimed 2013 Renegade!

Time Posted: May 11, 2016 at 11:16 AM
Ancient Peaks
 
April 6, 2016 | Ancient Peaks

AP Named Sunset Award Finalist

We are excited to share that we have been named a 2016 Sunset Travel Award finalist in the category of "Best Vineyard or Tasting Room Experience," in tandem with our affiliated Margarita Adventures zipline tours.  

We are one of just four finalists in the category, which is designed "to honor an outstanding Western tasting room or vineyard tour that illuminates viticulture and enology, has fun doing so, and offers guests a chance to sample excellent wines at the completion." Click here for more information.

So what was it about our experience that stood out from the crowd? Well, as we put it, "From high-flying adventure to hands-on wine education, Ancient Peaks Winery and our affiliated Margarita Adventures offer a vineyard tour experience like no other—one that can now be concluded with a bite at new Ancient Peaks Café at the winery tasting room."

In other words, by combining educational vineyard tours as well as zipline canopy tours along with a recently expanded tasting room and a new café, we have a lot to do and taste here at Ancient Peaks. 

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2016 at 9:41 AM