After an excellent 2017 vintage at Margarita Vineyard, we are hopeful that history might repeat itself this year.

Indeed, through the end of July, the growing season is tracking closely to last year in terms of overall timing and initial fruit quality. If that holds, we can expect another banner vintage at Ancient Peaks.

The 2018 growing season began on a cool note, which put the vineyard behind the average starting pace by about two weeks. Early spring brought the “March miracle,” when 10 inches of rain fell on Margarita Vineyard after a relatively dry winter. The frost season came and went without incident. The flowering or fruit set period was prolonged by cooler weather, and stiff breezes caused a bit of shatter in our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blocks. However, crop loads are healthy this year and the effect will be minimal in the long run.

The summer season started on a steady note and cruised along until a heat wave arrived in the last week of July, pushing temperatures northward of 100 degrees for several days. By night, however, temperatures were still dipping into the 50s.

The added warmth stimulated veraison as well as canopy growth. The soil moisture from the March rains is still providing a hedge against dehydration. Veraison came first to our Pinot Noir, and now our Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are underway. Petit Verdot and Zinfandel will follow.

“Because of our location, we are always two to four weeks behind Paso Robles proper when it comes to veraison and harvesting,” says Ancient Peaks co-owner and viticulturist Doug Filipponi. “The long, late growing season is a signature of Margarita Vineyard and our wines.”

He adds, “So far, things are looking really close to 2017 in timing and quality. The 2017 wines are exceptional, so we hope that holds. But it’s all knock on wood right now—we still have some months to go. So far, however, I’m really pleased with where things are headed.”