Ancient Peaks Winery opens cafe, remodels tasting room
Menu crafted in collaboration with The Range restaurant
– Ancient Peaks Winery has unveiled a remodeled and expanded tasting room in Santa Margarita, complete with a new on-site cafe featuring food crafted in collaboration with chefs Jeff and Cheyne Jackson of The Range restaurant.
“We were honored when Jeff and Cheyne graciously agreed to help steer the culinary vision of our new cafe,” said Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, VP of operations for Ancient Peaks Winery. “They will not be here cooking on site, but their fingerprints are on the menu. This is a multi-family collaboration that unites two cornerstone food and wine operations right here in Santa Margarita.”
The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The new cafe is open on Thursdays through Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This will provide us with a little bit of breathing room to grow,” said Doug Filipponi, co-owner of Ancient Peaks. Filipponi said that the tasting room has grown quite popular in the last few years, “People like crowds, but not when it prevents them from something,” he said. “This expansion should last us a few more years.”
The Ancient Peaks Cafe menu emphasizes wine-friendly fare made with fresh local ingredients, including some grown on Santa Margarita Ranch, which is operated by the same families who own Ancient Peaks Winery.
Filipponi said that the tasting room decor was mostly selected by Wittstrom-Higgins, “They told me I wasn’t chic,” he said, laughing. Filipponi says that although the new tasting room is updated with a more modern style, the venue will not lose its rustic “ranch charm.” One of the new sandwiches that will be served at the cafe is named, “The Dougie,” after Filipponi, “It has ham on it,” he said, “Because I’m a bit of a ham.”
Additional menu examples include “The Kathy,” a baguette sandwich with fire-roasted peppers, marinated goat cheese, arugula, red onion, basil and Olea Farms olive oil· “The Karl ” a salad of wild arugula, red quinoa, poached beets, red onion, goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and champagne basil vinaigrette, or Rob’s Treat, a dessert of blackberry Ancient Peaks Cabernet sorbet with shortbread from Santa Margarita’s Just Baked bakery.
“In addition to wine, we are growing other crops on the ranch, such as corn and watermelon,” Wittstrom Higgins said. “We hope to incorporate ranch-grown items as much as possible. We are an estate-focused winery, so it’s fitting to share food grown on the same land as our wines.”
In addition to the new kitchen and cafe space with bistro tables, the expanded Ancient Peaks tasting room features lounge-style seating, an outdoor wrap-around porch, and more than double the square footage of the previous tasting room. The bar includes a visual display of the five soil types found at the winery’s estate Margarita Vineyard.
“The timing for the new tasting room couldn’t be better,” Wittstrom-Higgins said. “We had outgrown our original space We just launched a new package redesign, and we are set to celebrate our winery’s 10th anniversary next year Its a fitting milestone in the evolution of our winery.”