Cart 0 items: $0.00

The DIRT on AP - a winery blog

Ancient Peaks
July 31, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Margarita Vineyard: Vintage 2018 Update

After an excellent 2017 vintage at Margarita Vineyard, we are hopeful that history might repeat itself this year.
Indeed, through the end of July, the growing season is tracking closely to last year in terms of overall timing and initial fruit quality. If that holds, we can expect another banner vintage at Ancient Peaks. 
The 2018 growing season began on a cool note, which put the vineyard behind the average starting pace by about two weeks. Early spring brought the “March miracle,” when 10 inches of rain fell on Margarita Vineyard after a relatively dry winter. The frost season came and went without incident. The flowering or fruit set period was prolonged by cooler weather, and stiff breezes caused a bit of shatter in our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blocks. However, crop loads are healthy this year and the effect will be minimal in the long run.
The summer season started on a steady note and cruised along until a heat wave arrived in the last week of July, pushing temperatures northward of 100 degrees for several. By night, however, temperatures were still dipping into the 50s. 
The added warmth stimulated veraison as well as canopy growth. The soil moisture from the March rains is still providing a hedge against dehydration. Veraison came first to our Pinot Noir, and now our Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are underway. Petit Verdot and Zinfandel will follow. 
“Because of our location, we are always two to four weeks behind Paso Robles proper when it comes to veraison and harvesting,” says Ancient Peaks co-owner and viticulturist Doug Filipponi. “The long, late growing season is a signature of Margarita Vineyard and our wines.”
He adds, “So far, things are looking really close to 2017 in timing and quality. The 2017 wines are exceptional, so we hope that holds. But it’s all knock on wood right now—we still have some months to go. So far, however, I’m really pleased with where things are headed."

Time Posted: Jul 31, 2018 at 7:31 AM
Ancient Peaks
May 31, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Video: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Since day one, Cabernet Sauvignon has been a focal point of the Ancient Peaks experience, as we recognized early on that our estate Margarita Vineyard was a premier site for the variety.

In 2016, we were blessed with optimal growing conditions, allowing us to produce a classic example of Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. We also incorporated small lots of Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah in the final blend to enhance the wine’s color, structure and intensity.

In the above video, Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor shares insights into this new release, which is now available at our Paso Robles wine tasting room. 


Time Posted: May 31, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Ancient Peaks
May 10, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Oyster Ridge: The Crown Jewel of AP

Our Oyster Ridge cuvée honors an outcropping in our estate Margarita Vineyard that never fails to astonish. Here, large white oyster fossils are literally spilling out of the ground, fostering the type of calcium-rich soil that is coveted by winemakers worldwide. 

Each year, this cuvée comes from superior sections of the vineyard that are fastidiously farmed to maximize the fruit’s potential and meet the standards of the Oyster Ridge program.

The final blend is assembled from only those barrels that exhibit exemplary complexity, structure and aging potential, often resulting in an unconventional union of varietals. 

This brings us to the 2014 vintage, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Merlot (36%), Syrah (5%), Petite Sirah (5%) and Malbec (3%). The mouthfeel of this wine is broad and plush, framed by luscious accents of new oak. Lively acidity and long tannins converge with impeccable balance on a sleek, structured finish

We are proud to share that this vintage is ringing the bells of top wine critics, as noted below. We invite you to experience this remarkable wine at our tasting room, and you may also order right here on our web site

“94 POINTS…Plush with layered flavors of lavender to mulled plum and blackberry to dusted cocoa.”
-Tasting Panel Magazine
“92 POINTS…Firmly structured…Possessing great harmony and depth.”
-Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate

“92 POINTS....”
-Wine Enthusiast
“91 POINTS…Wall-to-wall flavors offer complexity, texture, richness and length…Long and fulfilling on the finish.” 
-Wine Spectator

Time Posted: May 10, 2018 at 10:28 AM
Ancient Peaks
March 27, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Finally, The Rain Comes

After a dry start to the new year, the floodgates finally opened at our estate Margarita Vineyard last week. 

Indeed, a series of storms rumbled through the Central Coast this month, capped by a three-day period during which we recorded more than three inches of rain at Santa Margarita Ranch.

The bright greening of the hills is a welcome sight after drought conditions persisted in January and February.

"There are no detrimental effects from heavy rain this time of year," says Winemaker Stewart Cameron. "It's all upside. It's putting a lot of moisture in the soil that will carry well into the growing season."

This was also another instance of our ranch being a “rain magnet.” Indeed, there are spots on the ranch that average more than 30 inches of rain annually—far more than nearby San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.

This is a phenomenon related to the surrounding mountain peaks for which our winery is named. As moisture-laden air blows in from the ocean and travels upward along these mountain slopes, it cools and condenses, forming clouds and generating elevated precipitation.

The added soil moisture from the rain allows our vines to thrive through a long growing season, which in turn allows us to produce wines with ripeness, structure and balance.

While we are still below historic rainfall averages this year, this wet March made a big difference and will help stave off the return of drought conditions.

Time Posted: Mar 27, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Ancient Peaks
February 27, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Wine Spectator Shines on AP Zinfandel

We are excited to share that our 2015 Zinfandel has earned a rating of 90 points in The Wine Spectator, where critic Tim Fish described the wine as "a lively, zesty Zinfandel that offers charm and good structure, with blackberry, licorice and white pepper flavors.”

This wine comes from our estate Margarita Vineyard, where the Zinfandel fruit (pictured here) achieves a signature balance of both ripenesss and structure. 

Meanwhile, our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc recently notched 91 points with an “Editor’s Choice” designation in Wine Enthusiast, as well as 92 points in Tasting Panel Magazine

The 2014 Oyster Ridge included in your last shipment was awarded a Double Gold medal and earned the distinction of Class Champion at the prestigious 2018 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition in Houston, Texas. It also scored 90 points in California Grapevine, and 92 points in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate.

And the 2015 Renegade earned 93 points and an “Editor’s Choice” designation in Wine Enthusiast, along with 93 points from Tasting Panel Magazine

We invite you to come to our Paso Robles tasting room to try these acclaimed wines, and to also enjoy a bit at our adjoining cafe. 


Time Posted: Feb 27, 2018 at 8:57 AM
Ancient Peaks
January 18, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

The Art of Blending

Our winemakers recently stepped up to answer an age-old philosophical question: "Blending wines – is it art, science or a little of both?"

Indeed, Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor and Winemaker Stewart Cameron fielded this question as part of the new "Ask The Expert" series on the popular Reverse Wine Snob site. 

So what's their answer? "A lot of both."

They continue: "To be good at blending wines, you have to know your science. But to be great, you need to bring some artistry to the task.

Let’s start with the science – the chemistry of the wine. Much of this is handled at harvest time, by growing, fermenting and then aging wines that are technically sound. Your tannins, acids, pH and alcohols are established early in the life of a wine, so that is your time to get it right. You want to avoid scientific flaws, rather than try to fix or blend them away later.

However, science can only take you so far. If you are driven to achieve something great – a blend that will stand the test of time – then you need to delve into the art and mysticism of wine. You need to push and challenge yourself as a winemaker, to taste the wines of the world as your point of reference, then create something that is truly your own."

Click here to read the rest of the story on Reverse Wine Snob. 

Time Posted: Jan 18, 2018 at 2:19 PM
Ancient Peaks
January 16, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

San Francisco Gold Rush

We are excited to share that our 2015 Zinfandel earned a gold medal and "Best in Class" at the prestigious 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Our 2016 Chardonnay nabbed a gold medal as well. 

This year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition received 6,960 entries, and was judged by an all-star cast of wine authorities. 

Our good news doesn't end there. The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc recently notched 91 points with an “Editor’s Choice” designation in Wine Enthusiast. Meanwhile, the 2015 Renegade earned 93 points and an “Editor’s Choice” designation in Wine Enthusiast, along with 93 points from Tasting Panel Magazine. 

And our 2014 Oyster Ridge earned 92 points in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, and was awarded a Double Gold medal with the distinction of Class Champion at the 2018 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition in Houston, Texas. 

We invite you to come to our Paso Robles tasting room to experience these award-winning vintages. 


Time Posted: Jan 16, 2018 at 2:11 PM
Ancient Peaks
January 15, 2018 | Ancient Peaks

Ancient Peaks: The Movie

Okay, it’s not quite a full-length movie, but it covers a lot of ground!

Indeed, we are excited to share our new three-minute winery video titled “The Ancient Peaks Winery Experience."

Shot by the talented Cameron Ingalls, this video shows how our three longtime local winegrowing and ranching families have built Ancient Peaks upon a legacy of history, hospitality and family. We hope you enjoy watching this latest chapter in the Ancient Peaks story.  

Time Posted: Jan 15, 2018 at 2:05 PM
Ancient Peaks
December 15, 2017 | Ancient Peaks

Houston, We Have A Winner!

We are excited to share that our 2014 Oyster Ridge red blend won a Double Gold medal and earned the distinction of Class Champion at the prestigious 2018 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition in Houston, Texas. Additionally, our 2015 Renegade red blend also earned a Double Gold medal. 

This 15th annual competition was a record-breaking event with 3,188 wine entries, which were evaluated by 120 judges. The results were verified by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Each year, we craft the limited-edition Oyster Ridge cuvée to exemplify our finest winemaking efforts. The 2014 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Merlot (36%), Syrah (5%), Petite Sirah (5%) and Malbec (3%), all from meticulously farmed vineyard blocks cultivated for the Oyster Ridge program.

The 2014 Oyster Ridge has also earned a rating of 92 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, while the 2015 Renegade was recently accorded a score of 93 points by Wine Enthusiast. 

We invite you to experience these wines at our Paso Robles tasting room and winery cafe.     

Time Posted: Dec 15, 2017 at 2:59 PM
Ancient Peaks
November 21, 2017 | Ancient Peaks

Join Us at Wine Speak Paso Robles

We are excited to share that our very own Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins has co-founded Wine Speak Paso Robles, an inaugural wine event happening on January 9-11 in the Paso Robles wine country. Here is the lowdown:

For The Public

We invite you to join us for the “Taste of Paso Robles” grand tasting on January 10, which will showcase 25 leading local wineries in an intimate setting overlooking Atascadero Lake. Local chefs will present wine friendly small plates and winemakers will showcase some of their finest reserve and library bottlings.

During the grand tasting, you will enjoy rubbing shoulders with these wine industry luminaries from near and far. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to taste the best of Paso Robles and make new friends in the world of wine.

For tickets and information, please visit

For The Trade

Wine Speak Paso Robles is a premiere educational summit for sommeliers, wine industry leaders and hospitality professionals. It includes winemaker seminars, sommelier-led tastings, technical tours and more.

Featured master sommeliers will include Fred Dame, vice president of prestige accounts at American Wine & Spirits and chairman of the board of GuildSomm; Nunzio Alioto, former chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers; and Greg Harrington, founder and winemaker at Gramercy Cellars. Featured winemakers will represent numerous regions, including Walla Walla, Napa Valley, West Sonoma Coast, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles and Victoria, Australia. 

“This is a unique event that blends broad perspectives with regional flavor,” Amanda says. “It will be educational, but also very social. Audience participation will be highly encouraged, and everyone who attends will make new friends.”  

For more information, please visit or contact Christine Curtis at 805.365.7045  or

Time Posted: Nov 21, 2017 at 12:13 PM
Recent Posts
Blog Categories
Blog Archives
Our Writers