Our current release 2020 Renegade red blend continues to rack up rave reviews, including 93 points in The Tasting Panel and 90 points in Vinous—extending the wine’s streak of perennially high scores dating back to the inaugural 2009 vintage.
True to its name, Renegade is a wine that pushes the envelope and resists conformity. To illuminate the magic behind this one-of-a-kind blend, let’s take a look at how the 2020 Renegade came together:
It all starts at our estate Margarita Vineyard—the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region, located in the namesake Santa Margarita Ranch AVA.
Here, the weather is cooler than Paso Robles proper, and the growing season is longer. This creates a long hang time for the grapes, allowing the fruit to develop rich, ripe flavors while maintaining vivid structure and acidity—qualities that are on full display with the 2020 Renegade. We even have a sign marking “Renegade Junction” near the blocks where our Renegade fruit is grown.
Here’s where it gets really interesting, as we drive the wine with Syrah (67%) while incorporating smaller lots of Petit Verdot (27%) and Malbec (6%)—a rule-breaking marriage of both Rhône and Bordeaux varieties. While such an unholy union would be disallowed in France, there are no such rules here in California. And as we’ve proven vintage after vintage, this is, in fact, a match made in heaven.
In the final blend, Syrah sets the tone with deep black fruit and savory nuances. The Petit Verdot intensifies the overall color, nuance and tannin profile, while the Malbec brings juiciness to the mouthfeel. The Syrah provides the boldness, while the Bordeaux grapes add structure and finesse. The result is a uniquely styled blend and a true Ancient Peaks original.
For the 2020 vintage, each lot was cold soaked for 48 hours prior to fermentation. After fermentation, the individual lots were aged for 20 months in a combination of French (40%) and American oak (60%) barrels, including a total of 20 percent new oak. A majority of the Syrah was aged in barrels with medium-plus toasting to accentuate the varietal’s savory, smoky nuances. Let’s take a closer look at these methods:
Cold Soaking: This is the method of allowing the destemmed fruit to “soak” on its own prior to initiating fermentation. Because this soaking happens before alcohol is produced, it allows our winemakers to extract enhanced color and flavor from the fruit without risking added astringency.
French and American Oak Barrels: French oak tends to be more subtle and savory, while American oak is more overt with sweeter vanilla tones. We combine both to cultivate more depth and nuance in the blend.
Oak Toasting: Toasting is the process of treating the barrel wood over an open flame. Different toasting levels create different aroma and taste profiles. Medium-plus toasting is a slightly higher toasting level that works perfectly with the dark, saturated and meaty qualities of the Syrah.