During the past ZAP tasting in San Francisco I renewed my friendship with Ancient Peaks Winery in Paso Robles. They poured an outstanding Zinfandel and it is priced to compete with any and all comers. My first experience with AP was a few years ago when they did a special bottling of Cabernet Franc for Trader Joe's it was fantastic and only $10 a bottle.
They have a special story.
Ancient Peaks produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year but sells almost 90% of their fruit to other premium wineries in California. Located just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean they get a marine air flow which holds their grapes' natural acidity and fruit flavors. Being a grower first they are able to select the premium lots for use in their Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot, just to name a few of their wines.
Their vineyards are not yet dry farmed but they get more than 30 inches of annual rain fall which bodes well for the future when the vines establish a root system which will allow them to be dry farmed in the future. There is a section of vineyard dedicated to Rhone varietals which have recently become very popular with wineries in the Paso Robles area. Public interest in Rhone varietals is resulting in an increase in growing grapes such as Granche, Viognier, Roussane, Syrah and Rousanne to name a few. Some Ancient Peak Zinfandel Blocks have been grafted to the Rockpile clone which can yield a very profound flavor profile.
The wine press is aware of the quality and user- friendly pricing of the wines which is under $20 for anything labeled Ancient Peaks. The current issue of Wine Spectator rates the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel as outstanding buys for the money. Wine Enthusiast, Wines and Spirits and the San Francisco Chronicle have all rated Ancient Peaks as a great dollar value. Current full retail for the reds is $17, but they can be had for $15 or less at many retail stores. Last year Costco sold their excellent Merlot for $10 and it did not last long.
Do yourself a favor and try your favorite varietal made by Ancient Peaks and you will have discovered the ultimate deal in well crafted wine at a great price.