Steeped in Mission-era history and Wild West mythology, Santa Margarita Ranch is today owned by three longtime local winegrowing and ranching families who are committed to advancing the land’s legacy of “early California rancho hospitality.”
Karl Wittstrom oversees the daily management and operations of Ancient Peaks Winery. Karl is an entrepreneur, winegrower, rancher and longtime Paso Robles area resident who was raised amid his family’s ranching and farming business. Karl is a director of the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, and he is a member of the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Farm Bureau and a past director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. He oversees his own family vineyard and co-owns Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery.
Doug Filipponi is a longtime local winegrower and Paso Robles native who oversees all vineyard operations for Ancient Peaks Winery. Doug was named “Wine Industry Person of The Year” by his wine industry peers at the 2006 California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles. He is also the president of Filipponi & Thompson Drilling, the current president of the Paso Robles Cab Collective, a past president of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, and a past chairman of the Paso Robles Wine Festival. Doug is co-owner of Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery.
Rob Rossi oversees strategic planning and development for Ancient Peaks Winery. Rob is a local entrepreneur and businessman with varied interests throughout the Central Coast. Rob is a newcomer to the wine industry, having introduced Robert Mondavi to Santa Margarita Ranch in 1999. Rob’s interests emphasize historic renovations and reuse projects, which have included the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo and Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. He co-owns Margarita Vineyard and Ancient Peaks Winery.
Mike Sinor is recognized as one of the Central Coast’s highest-rated winemakers. His winemaking career on the Central Coast spans more than 20 years. At Ancient Peaks Winery, Mike directs the quality and style of the wines, and he also oversees viticultural practices at the winery’s estate Margarita Vineyard. His first complete vintage with Ancient Peaks was 2006. “The opportunity to work with Margarita Vineyard is what really drew me to Ancient Peaks,” Mike says. “The growing conditions here are remarkable—and that’s something I’m driven to reflect in the wines of Ancient Peaks.”
Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is a Paso Robles native who belongs to the second-generation of the Ancient Peaks ownership families. As Executive Vice President, Amanda is responsible for overseeing our winery’s operating performance, strategic planning and employee relations. In 2019, Amanda was on the cover on Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40” issue featuring “the trailblazers who are redefining the industry as we know it.” Amanda is also the founder of Dream Big Darling, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring the next generation of leaders in the wine and spirits industry.
Stewart Cameron oversees our daily winery operations and is involved in all facets of winemaking at Ancient Peaks along with Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor. After studying cellular and molecular biology in college, Stewart moved to San Luis Obispo. Here, found himself drawn to the wine industry. He caught the winemaking bug while working in a winery lab in Paso Robles, and he later joined Ancient Peaks in 2006. He worked his way up to the position of assistant winemaker and was promoted to winemaker in 2013, demonstrating an innate talent for winemaking along the way.
Jaime Muniz has been working at Santa Margarita Ranch since the first grapes were planted in 1999. Jaime is a longtime Central Coast resident and a graduate from Paso Robles High School. When Ancient Peaks co-owner and viticulturist Doug Filipponi took over vineyard operations in 2005, Jaime’s hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed. A year later, Jaime was promoted to assistant vineyard manager and then to vineyard manager in 2009. “I’m always pushing hard, and I never stop learning,” he says. “I love working for a family-owned operation that is dedicated to quality.”