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The DIRT on AP - a winery blog

Ancient Peaks
July 23, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

The A-List Difference

Not just another wine club. That's how we bill our A-List wine club. We recently asked Nina Leschinsky, our direct to consumer sales manager (pictured here), to share what makes the A-List different…

What is your vision for the A-List Wine Club?

Our vision is to keep the club exciting and interesting at every level, and to offer incomparable benefits. It all starts with the wine. We work with winemaking and ownership year after year to develop varietals and blends exclusive to our members. Whether it be a small lot of Pinot Noir or a magnum of our Renegade red blend, you can expect something unique and exclusive. Each year, we also have extremely special barrels that we reserve for our special Jackpot designation. These wines are only available to our club members and they change from year to year.

What do you think makes this wine club different from others?

So many things make us unique. For starters, we over-deliver on quality. As a member, you receive a substantial discount on highly rated wines that are already priced competitively. I can’t think of too many other wine clubs that can compare. At the same time, we bring you exclusive wines at a higher price point that you can feel great about bringing to special occasions.

We also offer many creative ongoing benefits beyond our great discounts.

Every year, members are invited to an outdoor barbecue dinner at our private Oyster Ridge barn, highlighting local food, beautiful views, library wines or futures, and live music. These truly are magical events.

We now offer monthly educational workshops for club members, featuring local food artisans, chefs, cheese purveyors, and even flower arranging experts. Members are also treated to a complimentary tour (up to four guests) of the ranch and vineyard, concluding with wine and food pairings. Additionally, members enjoy special savings on zipline canopy tours offered by our affiliated Margarita Adventures. 

For club members who live out of the area we are always offering something special. This may be a special shipping promotion, a gift included in your wine shipment, or a winery-hosted event in your area.

The list of benefits goes on and on. In fact, we had to create a dedicated web page to help members keep track of them!

What do you do to keep the things fresh for the club?

It comes down to our staff and the commitment to education that ownership makes to ensure we are ahead of the game. Every month, our tasting room staff takes time to learn a different aspect of the business, including but not limited to winemaking, vineyard practices, food and wine pairing, and guest services. All of these things help us develop new ideas to better serve our club members.

I haven’t seen many other clubs evolve and flourish in the same way ours has. It’s a testament not only to our hard work, but also to our members. Our members are very involved, friendly and enthusiastic, and they are a continual inspiration to us.

Ancient Peaks
July 18, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

What Lies Beneath

We like to say that soils are the ingredients behind our wines, as our estate Margarita Vineyard is home to a rare diversity of soil types that ebb, flow and intermingle from one block to the next. These soil types include shale, sedimentary, granitic, volcanic and ancient sea bed.

In some blocks, the base soil composition is obvious, such as at Oyster Ridge, where the ancient sea bed soil is literally percolating up to the surface in the form of ancient oyster fossils.

In other blocks, however, the nature of the soil isn’t plainly evident. Have a look at the exposed soil pit pictured above in one of our Zinfandel blocks. As you walk along the surface of this block, your boots get covered in young soil that is dark, fine and fluffy.

But as you can see, just 18 inches beneath that young soil layer is a solid foundation of stratified shale rock. It’s a stark and sudden shift that speaks to the true nature of the growing conditions in this block.

Here, the vine roots tend to grow laterally once they hit the hard rocky soil, seeking an easier way to acquire moisture. Consequently, the vines in this block have limited vigor and produce small, intensely flavored berries. In other words, the soil sets the tone for the fruit—and ultimately the character of the resulting wine.

And when the soils are as diverse as they are at Margarita Vineyard, it gives us that many more ingredients to create wines with natural depth and complexity.

Time Posted: Jul 18, 2013 at 8:10 AM
Ancient Peaks
July 5, 2013 | Ancient Peaks

Keeping Our Cool

Our estate Margarita Vineyard occupies one of the Paso Robles region’s coolest growing environments, but it sure didn’t feel that way over the past weekend during a heat wave that swept across the West Coast.

Temperatures reached 105 degrees at Margarita Vineyard. In other areas of the region, temperatures reached 111 degrees. Thankfully, things are now starting to cool back down.

As we always do when extreme heat is predicted, we took preemptive action to minimize potential damage. Four days before the high temperatures arrived, we started irrigating more steadily to ensure sufficient vine hydration. We also ceased all leaf removal activities to ensure that the fruit wasn’t overly exposed to hot direct sunlight.

As a result, we avoided sunburn of the grape skins, as evident in the accompanying photo taken yesterday of a young Zinfandel cluster. Even our vulnerable new Merlot plantings (pictured below) are still sitting pretty without any leaf burn. 

It helps that this heat wave came relatively early in the growing season. When the grapes are small and green, the skins are thicker and tougher. High heat can be more problematic later in the season, when the fruit is ripe and skins are more delicate.

It’s hard to fathom that exactly one month earlier we were experiencing freezing morning temperatures at Margarita Vineyard. Such is the adventure of agriculture, and whether it’s hot or cold or in between, we always need to be on our game and keep our cool.

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