After a fun hike with our dogs at Santa Margarita Lake, my friend and I decided to stop in for a taste at the Ancient Peaks tasting room located in downtown Santa Margarita. I hadn’t been there in awhile and was wowed by the changes they have made. The tasting room has expanded and has a modern feel with plenty of rustic touches. The staff were all super friendly and knowledgeable.

The wines were as good as I remembered. The tasting allows you to select 5 wines to try and I enjoyed each of my selections. My top picks would be: 2014 Chardonnay, 2014 Pinot Noir and 2013 Renegade (likely my favorite — a blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec — offered at a bargain price $24/bottle).

Also new since my last visit is the Ancient Peaks Café, specializing in local-ranch-to-table fare crafted in collaboration with The Range restaurant. The menu includes a nice assortment of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a soup of the day, all made with ingredients sourced from local purveyors.

We had worked up an appetite on our hike and decided to stay and enjoy lunch on the patio. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor patio area, so we had our pups at our feet, with a bowl of water, while we enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Eat this with…

AncientPeaksI couldn’t resist the soup of the day. The chef had prepared a cream of asparagus and leek soup with some wonderful spices (and I think some pistachio). I went for the option of a cup with a half arugula/beet/goat cheese salad and my friend had a cup with half a turkey sandwich. Our lunches were just $10 and $11. Everything was delicious paired with the Chardonnay.

We stayed much longer than we had planned and both decided we need to go back again soon! I’ve already enjoyed a bottle of the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc that I brought home — very refreshing.

The Ancient Peaks Tasting Room and Café are Open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.