Paso Robles News|Monday, November 18, 2019
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Black bear spotted in Santa Margarita foraging wine grapes 

Black bear spotted in Santa Margarita foraging wine grapes

Ancient Peaks Winery employee Jody Langford said he couldn’t believe his eyes earlier this month when he spotted and photographed a large black bear on Santa Margarita Ranch.

“I’ve lived in North County all my life, and I’ve seen a lot of bears, but never one this big,” he said.

“As the fruit ripens during the harvest season, the bears come down from the adjacent Santa Lucia Mountains to get their fill of premium wine grapes from our estate Margarita Vineyard,” explained Karl Wittstrom, co-owner of Margarita Adventures zipline tours and Ancient Peaks Winery, which are both based at Santa Margarita Ranch. “Our vineyard is sustainably farmed. Part of sustainability is sharing, and we are happy to share. As we say, ‘Promote sustainability—feed the bear!’”

Langford—an employee of Ancient Peaks Winery and a seasoned photographer— said he took the best photos he could with a handheld telephoto lens. “I didn’t have my tripod setup with me, and I was bumping along in my truck, so they’re not perfect,” he said, noting that the bear kept its distance from the ziplines and ranch workers.

Margarita Adventures features six distinct ziplines spanning more than 7,500 combined feet. Along the way, guides share details of the ranch’s native wildlife, sustainable winegrowing practices and role as part of California’s famed Mission Trail. Margarita Adventures also offers seasonal kayak tours at Santa Margarita Lake and wildlife “Hummer” tours at Santa Margarita Ranch. Bald Eagles are frequently sighted on the wildlife tours, and Langford has captured photos of those as well.

“Our zipline tours focus on thrill and adventure, but there’s a passionate educational component along the way,” Wittstrom said. “It’s an opportunity to get out into nature, learn about our environment and value our native wildlife.”

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at