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We are no strangers to high honors at wine competitions, but our medal count at the recent 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition is particularly noteworthy.
Indeed, three of our wines scored gold medals and 90+ points at this prestigious competition, which included more than 4,500 wines from around the world. This competition is now in its 34th year, and is helmed by a judging panel of esteemed wine experts.
Gold medals were awarded to our 2011 Oyster Ridge blend, 2012 Renegade blend and 2012 Merlot. Along the way, these wines earned, respectively, 93 points, 91 points and 90 points. Click here to see all of our latest reviews.
Frankly, this is a winemaker dinner that’ll make your tail wag. Indeed, on Friday June 19, and to celebrate Roll Out The Barrels weekend across SLO Wine Country, we are teaming up with “Let’s Be Frank” for an epic pairing of wine and…hot dogs!
These aren’t just any hot dogs, however. They’re gourmet, grass-fed beef franks that have been declared the second best in the nation by Saveur Magazine, and named to LA Weekly’s list of “99 Things to Eat Before You Die.”
Now this famous food cart from San Francisco and Los Angeles is rolling into SLO Wine Country to pair their gourmet hot dogs and artisan potato chips with a selection of Ancient Peaks wines. The night will be complete with live music from local guitarist Matt Cross, an all-time fave.
The cost is $21 per person, and includes a glass of wine, hot dog and chips. Additional wine and dogs will be available for purchase as well. This is one doggone delicious dinner you won’t want to miss! Please call 805-365-7045 to RSVP or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I tried a sawzall then a cutting torch and now blasting caps!”
So wrote wine club member William Wallace the other day, explaining how he was struggling with opening a bottle of our wine. We hope he was exaggerating (and that the above photo he sent was mere theater!), but his note nonetheless inspired us to write the following public service announcement about how to safely open a wax-sealed bottle.
Let’s start at the beginning…When we bottled our limited-edition 2011 Syrah “Jackpot,” we went the extra mile to seal it with wax instead of the traditional foil. We felt it was an exceptional wine, so we wanted to give it a special look.
The unintended consequence is that William and possibly other club members have found the wax seal confounding when it comes time to uncork the wine. The seal feels firm to the touch, and indeed may look like it’s begging to be sawed or chipped off.
However, rule number one around any winery is “don’t hurt yourself.” That rule also applies to opening wine. If you ever find yourself reaching for a serrated kitchen knife, crowbar or other alternative instrument (or explosive), then stop immediately. It’s just not worth it—even if it is our epic 2011 Syrah “Jackpot” that you’re trying to liberate.
So just how do you crack the wax seal? The ancient principle of Occam’s Razor essentially says that the simplest option is usually the right one, and so it is that the best way to uncork a wax-sealed wine is to use what you always use: a corkscrew.
Position the screw right into the center of the seal, push hard and screw it down through the wax and into the cork just as you always do. Then grip the corkscrew lever against the wax along the neck (as you would normally do against the lip of the neck), and gently pull the cork out and through the wax seal.
This simple method should work like a charm on our 2011 Syrah “Jackpot” and other wax-sealed wines.
However, there are instances when wineries use an overly hard wax to seal their wines, which can make the corkscrew method extra challenging if not impossible. In which case, we recommend that you contact William. We hear he has a cutting torch.
A few percentage points may not sound like a lot, but when it comes to blending wine, even the smallest portions can have a big impact.
Case in point: our new release 2011 Oyster Ridge, an estate reserve blend composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (44%), Malbec (4%) and Petite Sirah (4%). While Cabernet and Merlot take center stage in this blend, it’s the small degrees of Malbec and Petite Sirah that make the blend whole.
For example, Petite Sirah is a consistent annual contributor to this blend, and it’s what makes Oyster Ridge unconventional compared to more traditional Bordeaux-style blends. We find that Petite Sirah adds crucial depth and structure to the finish of Oyster Ridge. But the trick is identifying just the right amount each year, and that’s where a few percentage points can make all the difference.
“We might try it at six or eight percent, and then ultimately back it down to four percent,” says Winemaker Stewart Cameron. “In other years, we might bump it up from that. But there’s no question that a little goes a long way in shaping the blend.”
Even a trifling one-percent component can have a big impact on a wine. “Our Petite Sirah tends to be pretty intense,” Stewart says. “If you were to add just one-percent of it to an otherwise soft, easy-drinking red blend, you would notice a pretty significant difference in the wine’s tannin profile. Oyster Ridge is always a big wine to start with, however, so the impact of a percentage or two is more subtle. But it’s still there.”
The same goes for the four-percent contribution of Malbec in the 2011 Oyster Ridge, particularly on the aromatic front. “The small percentages of Malbec that we played with didn’t have a pronounced impact on the mouthfeel like the Petite Sirah,” Stewart says. “You really notice this in the nose. It adds these pretty high-toned aromatics to the blend.”
In other words, in matters of blending, a huge role is often played by the supporting actor.