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Ancient Peaks, Paso Robles Southernmost Winery

The Paso Robles region’s southernmost winery Ancient Peaks is located at Santa Margarita Ranch which we learned is the size of Manhattan. Its vast (857 acre) Margarita Vineyard is the only vineyard in this region and is distinguished by its centuries-old oyster beds deep in the soils and one of the coolest and longest growing seasons thanks to the winds coming from the surrounding Santa Lucia Mountains. In addition to the vineyards, Santa Margarita is one of California’s oldest continuously operated cattle ranches.

Ancient Peaks has considerable provenance in Paso Robles. The property is owned by three longtime winegrowing and cattle ranching families. Founding Winemaker Mike Sinor is considered top in his trade throughout the Central Coast.

We did not have a chance to tour the ranch this trip and hope to do so on a return visit as we hear it is quite spectacular. However, we stopped by Ancient Peak’s Tasting room and tried a selection of wines paired with cheeses. All wines are made with estate fruit.

The wine selections we tasted at Ancient Peak’s tasting room

Here are some tasting notes:

Rosé 2020 ($24), available only at the tasting room, is 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Malbec. It has flavors of raspberry, watermelon and orange zest.

Pearl Chardonnay 2018 ($32) has notes of ripe stone and tropical fruits and vanilla and brown butter notes. A nice option for spicier foods and rich shellfish dishes. The Pearl Collection is all small lot production wines, each under 500 cases, and only available direct through the winery. The name is a reference to the centuries-old oyster beds found throughout the vineyard.

Merlot 2018 ($20). This wine has notes of ripe blueberry, black cherry and touch of spice and creamy vanilla with gravely tannins.

Cabernet Franc Blend 2018 ($50). Made with 71%Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has pleasant peppery notes thanks to the dominant variety combined with red currants, dark plum and leather.

Oyster Ridge 2017 ($60). A Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine (80%) with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Petit Syrah. This is a lush wine, rich with blackberry, black olive, chocolate, mossy, smoky notes and balanced tannins. Ideal for a holiday roast lamb or prime rib.

Ancient Peaks’ Tasting Room is location at 22720 El Camino Real.
Hours 11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. Phone: 805.365.7045 www.ancientpeaks.com

Come for the wines. Enjoy the cheese pairing!
Come for the wines. Enjoy the cheese pairing!
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A Visit To Tin City and ONX Winery- Paso Robles

Ever heard of Tin City? Not to be confused with “Sin City,” a nickname for Las Vegas, Tin City is a contemporary indie wine trail and artisan food and drink hangout built in an industrial park in Paso Robles. The name refers to the metal industrial warehouses that line this walkable area, now filled with winery tasting rooms and eating spots. Don’t miss the artisan sheep’s milk ice cream at Negranti Creamery!

There are roughly 20 small-lot production wineries with tasting rooms in Tin City which makes it a nice day visit. And that’s where we met up with Jeff Strekas of ONX wines to taste and talk.

ONX vineyards
The vineyards at ONX

Founded in 2005 by Orange County (CA) entrepreneur and real estate developer Steve Olson, ONX (pronounced “onyx”) refers to the onyx calcite deposits discovered in the mineral rich soil. The vineyards are located on a 127-acre property in the Templeton Gap District AVA. ONX cultivates 18 different grape varieties, mainly Bordeaux and Rhone white and reds but also Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo (we liked the Tempranillo “Indie Rosé”).

The lineup of ONX wines we tasted.
The lineup of ONX wines we tasted.

Jeff Strekas’s bio says he is a “general misanthrope and curmudgeonly spectator of the “Theater of Life.” We found him pleasant and deeply knowledgeable about the Paso Robles area. He was born and raised in Connecticut and caught the wine bug after traveling to Napa frequently when he worked as a biochemical engineer. After graduating U.C. Davis, he worked in winemaking in Napa and Australia and eventually in Paso Robles. He’s worked at ONX for more than a decade, originally in winemaking and now as Director of Operations and Wine Growing.

Jeff Strekas
Jeff Strekas

ONX’s winemaker is currently Drew Nenow, who worked at his father’s Robert Nenow Winery and aunt and uncle’s Behrens and Hitchcock Wines. Nenow could also be a body double to actor, Tom Cruise, with his wide grin and shock of dark hair.

Drew Nenow

Our visit to ONX included a two night stay at Briarwood Cottage. Owned by the winery, it’s a cozy, well-appointed place to rest your head, walk among the vineyards and write about the day. Info: Briarwood Cottage Vacation Rental — ONX Wines.

Briarcliff Cottage

Tin City is a must stop for your visit to Paso Robles. We wish we had more time to visit more of the tasting rooms and plan to do so when we schedule our return trip.

Here is a link to our podcast with Jeff Strekas on The Connected Table LIVE! Continue reading to learn what we tasted.