March, 2016 Edition

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A great combination

Expanded tasting room opens door to world-class wines and food

SANTA MARGARITA — Ancient Peaks Winery unveiled its remodeled and expanded tasting room in Santa Margarita at an invitation-only event late last year. The new tasting room also features an on-site café featuring a menu developed in conjunction with chefs Jeff and Cheyne Jackson of The Range restaurant.
“We’re just ecstatic,” Ancient Peaks co-owner Doug Filipponi said. “It’s a great combination of having The Range and working together because they believe the same as we do — it’s all about the quality and they serve a quality product for a reasonable price and that’s what we do here. With our wine, we could charge $10 more per bottle — and they’re still worth that — but we believe in delivering exceptional quality at a reasonable price and we think they do as well. Having them on board, for us, has been a real pleasure.”
Filipponi said that the tasting room is now more than twice its previous size, with space that used to be used for offices being added on. The entire building also underwent a remodeling project that lasted four months.
“It’s such a transformation that even I get a little displaced when I walk in,” Filipponi said.
The new tasting room will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the café will be open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring everything from sandwiches to cheese boards.
“Food and wine go together like two birds and a mule’s tail and you really need to have a little bit of food in your belly if you’re going to be out wine tasting,” Filipponi said. “And this food just goes perfectly with our Ancient Peaks wines.”
The menu will include “The Kathy,” a vegetarian sandwich consisting of a baguette filled with fire-roasted peppers, marinated goat cheese, arugula, red onion, basil and Olea Farm olive oil; “The Karl,” a salad of wild arugula, red quinoa, poached beets, red onion, goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and champagne basil vinaigrette; and “Rob’s Treat,” a dessert of blackberry Ancient Peaks Cabernet sorbet with shortbread from Santa Margarita’s Just Baked bakery.
Filipponi said that the chefs at The Range created the menu with input from himself and Ancient

The new Ancient Peaks Winery tasting room also features an on-site café featuring a menu developed in conjunction with chefs Jeff and Cheyne Jackson of The Range restaurant.

Peaks co-owner Karl Wittstrom-Higgens.
“We sat down and went through what we wanted and then we turned it over to The Range, turned it over to the professionals,” he said. “We went through and tasted the wines and came up wit this menu and they put together all of the components and taught our staff how to put these things together and on a day-to-day basis they’re always involved. They won’t be here the whole time, but they are the true directors of our food process here. These guys have done a great job putting this menu together. We’re going to use a lot of the components that are farm-to-table because we believe that you should eat the things that are fresh and in season.”
Much of the food served in the café will also be harvested fresh from Santa Margarita Ranch, home of the Ancient Peaks vineyards.
“In addition to wine, we are growing other crops on the ranch, such as corn and watermelon,” Wittstrom-Higgens said. “We hope to incorporate ranch-grown items as much as possible. We are an estate-focused winery, so it’s fitting to share food grown on the same land as our wines.”
The new tasting room, an open, cheerfully sunny space, also features a set of giant tubes behind the bar that show the different types of soil that Ancient Peaks grapes are grown in. The soil types are also illustrated on the new Ancient Peaks label, adorning all of their newer bottles.
“The soils and geology on the front kind of showcase what the grapes are growing in, which is what makes the wine taste like it does,” Filipponi said. “We’re really excited about it.”
The new tasting room has arrived just in time for Ancient Peaks’ 10-year anniversary this year.
“The timing for the new tasting room couldn't be getter,” Wittstrom-Higgens said. “We had outgrown our original space. We just launched a new package redesign, and we are set to celebrate our winery’s 10th anniversary. It’s a fitting milestone in the evolution of our winery.”
Ancient Peaks tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at 22720 El Camino Real, Suite B, Santa Margarita. For more information, call 365-7045 or visit