Dark garnet-red color; blackberry, chocolate, violets on the nose; big and viscous in the mouth with jammy blueberry, black cherry, plum, chocolate on the palate;
48% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, 4% petite sirah, 4% malbec. Good acidity (3.53 pH), admirably managed oak and vanilla, polished tannins, good balance and length, a very attractive California/Paso Robles Bordeaux-style blend with a West Coast twist (the petite sirah).
Ancient Peaks is a three-family, two-generation operation on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch—grapes were first planted there by Franciscan missionaries in 1780 and the ranch is one of California’s oldest continuously operated ranches. Rob Rossi acquired the ranch in 1999, and his friends Doug Filipponi and Karl Wittstrom, experienced cattlemen, soon joined as partners.
The Robert Mondavi family first planted the Margarita Vineyard under a lease agreement, but in 2005 the three families took control. From the beginning, the vineyard was conceived as a model of sustainability with vermicompost used as fertilizer and soil conditioner—vermicompost is created in raised worm beds, compost is brewed into a “compost tea” that is delivered through the irrigation system. Water conservation is achieved by pulse emitters that deliver a fine mist directed onto the fruiting zone, rather than less efficient overhead sprinklers. Vineyard pests are managed naturally; the program includes bat boxes, owl boxes, and raptor perches. Dedicated wildlife corridors allow animals to pass freely through and around the vineyard. Goat herds provide a low-impact herbicide alternative for vegetation management, and the ranch exceeds all requirements for wetland setbacks.
The name “Ancient Peaks” was selected to honor the Santa Lucia Mountains that border the vineyard. The operation is the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region and is just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the vineyard, the Santa Margarita Ranch continues to be a commercial cow-calf operation using sustainable range management and low-stress, natural handling of livestock without use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
Admirable stewards of the land, producers of superior wine. Hard to beat that. $50-54
Ancient Peaks website
Second photo: Paso Robles AVA