Pegasus Estate Wines are award winning wines!
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Gold Medal & Best of Class – 2018 West Coast Wine Competition
- 93 Points & Best of Santa Ynez Valley – 2018 Toast of the Coast Wine Competition
- 91 Points – 2018 Monterey International Wine Competition
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 97 Points/Double Gold – 2017 San Francisco Int’l Wine Competition
- 91 Points – Wine Enthusiast
- 92 Points – 2017 San Diego Int’l Wine & Spirits Challenge
- 91 Points – 2016 Sommelier Challenge Int’l Wine Competition
AUDIO FILE: Peggy on the Fork Report
KFI – Broadcasting live from Sierra Madre.
THEY DID IT.
Local cancer survivor and her horse finish tough endurance ride
At first, Lora Wereb says there are no words to describe her first-time experience as a participant in the 100-mile, 24-hour horseback ride in Northern California on July 23-24.
Then she bubbles “breathtaking,” “scary” “fun” and “awesome” as she relives the thrilling fete she accomplished with her beloved horse, Merlin. Neither was expected to finish the demanding Tevis Cup Endurance Ride, which is the popular name for the Western States Trail Ride, from Lake Tahoe to Auburn. It is considered one of the most challenging endurance rides in the world.
In fact, Ms. Wereb, 36, a terminal cancer survivor, and Merlin, an 18-year-old semi-abandoned hard-luck horse, were discouraged from trying the event that even seasoned equestrians never consider entering.
“Fifty percent of those who enter the Tevis Cup don’t finish. I’ve been told that Merlin will never make it. I’m hoping to prove them wrong. My main goal is to finish. If I can do that, I can show that Merlin is not a Craigslist reject. He’s not a broken-down pony,” said Ms. Wereb in a News-Press article that appeared in the Life Section several days before the ride began. Merlin, a Tennessee Walking Horse, certainly didn’t look like a “broken-down pony” last Monday as he relaxed in a picturesque enclosure with a white fence and green lawn at the Pegasus Estate Winery and Equestrian Center in Solvang, where Ms. Wereb lives on the 10-acre property.
Peggy and Michael Crowley Sr., who are co-owners, sponsored the duo, one of the 89 who completed the grueling competition out of 165. They started at 5:15 a.m. July 23 at Robie Equestrian Park between Lake Tahoe and Truckee. “The week before, Merlin and I spent time with a friend who lived in Cool, Calif., which is near the end of the race at Auburn. I wanted Merlin to become acclimated, and we took one practice ride in the dark on the trail,” recalled Ms. Wereb, well-rested as she sat in the shade of a guest cottage porch at the winery.
“When the race started, there were two groups – the first 60 were the fastest, and I was with everyone else. It was dark and dusty and crowded. Riders started out fast,” she said. After an uneventful 13-mile ride to Squaw Valley, the team faced its first challenge at Emigrant Pass, a 2,550-foot vertical climb that took them 8,774 feet above sea level.
“Merlin took it seriously. He lowered his head and went to work, but I had altitude sickness. I was nauseous. I felt better after drinking some water and having a little snack. After we dropped down, Merlin went super fast to charge after another horse. It was a wild ride and not pleasant. He was in charge of the trail, not me,” said Ms. Wereb.
She got her horse settled down in time for the climb to Cougar Rock, which is “not for the faint of heart. It’s a very steep climb, very dangerous. If anything happened, we would have had to get helicoptered out of there. Merlin and I worked as a team, and we made it.”
At 10 a.m., horse and rider reached the 28 1/2-mile mark and were given their first check by a veterinarian, where Ms. Wereb was told they were running too fast. If they didn’t slow down, they wouldn’t finish the race. “That scared me. For the next seven miles, we took it easy,” she said. “It paid off because at the next vet check, which was more thorough, Merlin was great. No problem.”
During the mandatory one-hour rest stop at Robinson Flat Campground, which was 36 miles into the ride at 11:20 a.m., Ms. Wereb united with three members of her seven-person crew: friends Sarah Pereverziev, Merlin’s original owner who bought him on Craigslist for $200; Kelly Johnson; and Ashley Salter. “They brought fresh food and clothes for me and fresh treats for Merlin,” said Ms. Wereb, who began the ride wearing a gift from the Crowleys, a white T-shirt with the words “Lora and Merlin, Pegasus Estate Winery, Tevis 2016” and the winery’s logo, with her black yoga pants and sneakers. She also dyed her hair turquoise for the ride.
In the previous News-Press article, Ms. Wereb explained that after her breast cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy left her bald, she decided to dye her hair different colors when it grew back.
“For three years, it’s been wild colors – green, purple, pink – lavender and turquoise are my two favorites … When people ask why, I tell them I lost my hair, and I need color in my life,” said Ms. Wereb in the article. At the beginning of what she called the middle section of the ride, where horse and rider had to cross three canyons, the team suffered a major trauma when they came to the American River.
“Merlin slipped on a rock, and when he fell, so did I into chest-high water. It was super scary, a rookie mistake that could have ended the ride. Merlin got free in a boulder area, and I waded across and walked him out. He had cuts on his legs from the rocks, and he was shaking, but we walked across a bridge and up the canyon,” said Ms. Wereb.
“After the second canyon, there was another vet check at mile 50, the half-way mark, and I was really worried that we wouldn’t make it, but the volunteers took over. They babied Merlin, sponged him off and massaged him. It was like a spa day for him. They brought back our confidence. They said, ‘Don’t give up. Keep moving and take care of each other.’ If not for them, I never would have finished,” she said.
All the pampering paid off for Merlin, who seemed to get “a second wind” as he lowered his head, plugged uphill and began passing horses. More good news was waiting at Michigan Bluff where Ms. Wereb’s boyfriend, Bryan Snyder, was waiting with carrots for Merlin and ice cream for Ms. Wereb. The next stop was Foresthill, the 68-mile mark, which she reached at 8 p.m. “I just made the cut-off, which was 8:15. If I hadn’t made it by then, I would have been disqualified,” said Ms. Wereb, who was joined at the one-hour mandatory rest stop by three more crew members.
“Bryan was also there. He made me a special grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. I got to take a shower. I felt like a million bucks,” said Ms. Wereb. For the night-time ride, she chose not to use a head lamp or flashlight, instead attaching three glow sticks – two green and one yellow – to Merlin’s breast collar.
“He looked like an alien spaceship,” she said with a laugh. Because of the practice night-time rides Ms. Wereb had with Merlin a month before the Tevis Ride, she was calm after the sun went down.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case for a large group of the riders who were “freaking out, yelling, going too fast and shining their flashlights all over. “Merlin was getting all worked up, so I hopped off and we hid in the dark to get rid of the other riders. Then we took off by ourselves for most of the night and did fine until three girls came riding up fast with their flashlights shining everywhere. Merlin tripped, and I flew over his head. I wasn’t hurt, but Merlin stood his ground. He wouldn’t let them pass,” said Ms. Wereb.
Christmas lights greeted them at Francisco’s, a staging area along the trail at the 85-mile mark, where she was greeted by volunteers who were surprised to hear her singing the theme song from the TV show “Bonanza” as she rode in for the 1 a.m. vet check, which Merlin passed with flying colors.
“It was an absolutely beautiful ride – moonlit night, trail in good shape, crickets chirping and frogs croaking.
“In fact, the night-time part was the favorite part of my ride,” said Ms. Wereb. The last part of the trail, from Lower Quarry to the finish at Auburn, was a delight.
“This was a part of the trail we had practiced the week before. Merlin’s ears perked up. He knew where we were. He knew he was going home. He was still full of energy when we crossed the finish line at 4:53 a.m., which was ahead of the 5:15 a.m. deadline,” said Ms. Wereb. “I was good until I got off. My body knew it was tired. It felt like I was still on the horse.”
After two hours of sleep, she attended the awards ceremony to receive the coveted silver and gold belt buckle that is given only to those who finish the race. On it are the words “Award, 100 Miles, One Day, Western States Trail Ride.”
Proudly showing off the buckle and its impressive leather belt, Ms. Wereb said, “I’d like to do this again without falling in the river, and if Merlin is strong enough, there is no reason we can’t do it.
“It’s the coolest thing I have ever done. I’m addicted.”
HIDDEN GEMS OF CALIFORNIA
On a bit of a whim at literally the very last minute as Mike was ready to jet off to Europe for a whirlwind business trip he coaxed me into entering the annual “Hidden Gems of California” Wine Competition. We knew that the response to our first coveted vintage was getting rave reviews and fans, but a real Wine Competition…real judges??? The heat was on. And so it was…on a Chamber of Commerce picture postcard perfect afternoon I delivered our cases of wine and watched as the judges immediately pulled out a bottle and put it into a brown paper bag which covered the bottle all the way up to the top. Uh oh…what were we really getting ourselves into? Mike was going through the motions at LAX as I nervously set up shop on the other side of the table at our first wine competition. “Well, it’s all in good fun and it’s a fundraiser” I told myself to calm the jitters. People started milling into the glorious outdoor setting in the exquisite enclave of “Happy Canyon” or “Billionaire’s Row” as I like to refer to it. What a day, sweet and perfect, innocent I thought.
Interest grew slowly, people naturally gravitating to the whites and roses to start. I was feeling a little bit like the last kid anybody picks to be on their dodge ball team. I began to genuinely worry. Then about midway through the event the tide began to turn. People started to taste, a low buzz became an audible hum and soon there was a huddle around my table. Guests of the event kept saying over and over again, the ‘longer you drink this the silkier it becomes’ and I repeatedly heard ‘how well balanced’ the vintage was. People would taste and then say, “I have to go get my friend right now and tell them about your amazing wine. I’ll be right back.”
As the event wore on the caterpillar I started out feeling like initially began a slow and surreal transformation into a butterfly! But to what end? My pouring neighbor, a friend and highly recognized winemaker said, “Now don’t get your expectations too high being that it’s your first wine competition and all. I just don’t want you to expect too much. If you’re lucky you may get an Honorable Mention.” He hadn’t tried the wine yet!
When all was said and done, they began to announce the names and order of the winners of the competition for the sold out event. They started in 4th or 5th place, I really can’t remember as it was sort of all a blur at that particular point. And then they worked their way down, “…and the 3rd place winner is…, and the 2nd place winner is…” I didn’t know what to think. People were looking and smiling at me and giving me the thumbs up on the QT, but how preposterous was this of me to think…imagine…even for a fleeting moment that the 1st place finisher might just be our wine? And then it was announced, “The 1st Place Winner of the Blue Ribbon in the Blind Tasting by the panel of 3 independent judges is Pegasus Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon!!” It felt completely out of body. I stood ecstatic and it total awe! I was thrilled and the guests of the event were erupting with applause. I was barely able to hear when the emcee of the event then began to announce, “And now we have the ‘People’s Choice Award’ voted on by the guests of Wine Competition here today and the ‘overwhelming’ First Place Winner is Pegasus Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon!!!!”
The applause was a deafening and I was off the charts with joy! The wine was a huge success in every way…loved by the judges and the guests alike! What more could anyone ask for; hope for; ever in their wildest imagination dream of?!!
At periods throughout the day I tried to update Mike as his flight was delayed time and time again and he languished at LAX for hours…oh how he would have loved to have been there at the event. I could not give him any definitive news other than the general buzz before he left the ground and when it was finally official that we had won I called his cell but his flight had just taken off! I left him a descriptive message of our amazing accomplishments and when he landed we shared our joy and enthusiasm continents away together over the phone! Please read the brief article here and thank you for your patronage and support!
The fifth annual “Hidden Gems” wine tasting and competition among home winemakers and small “boutique” professional wineries raised $15,000 for People Helping People programs to benefit families and children, according to Jordan Granet, PHP development associate.
The winners of the competition were Pegasus Estate cabernet sauvignon, first place red wine AND best in show; Quail Crossing pinot grigio, people’s choice; Mike Gordon cocobaccio, second place red wine; Allan Hancock pinot noir and Tim Gorham cabernet sauvignon, tied for third place red wine; and Fontes and Phillips, Panky Rosé, honorable mention.
This was the first entry for Pegasus Estate in the Hidden Gems competition and owner Peggy Crowley was surprised and delighted to be the overall winner for the day.
Quail Crossing, owned by Linda and Vince Gomez and Tim Gorham, was also a first-time entrant.
Mike Gordon, Hancock, and Fontes and Phillips are all repeat winners.
Granet said the fiercely contested wine competition was judged by Michael Cervin, News-Press food columnist; David Michael Cane, local wine critic and radio personality; and Charles T. Williams, director di vino at Wandering Dog Wine Bar in Solvang.
Appetizers at the event in Happy Canyon were furnished by New West Catering and Forno Classico. Live music was provided by Peter Feldmann and The Very Lonesome Boys, and Jim Farnum served as emcee and auctioneer.
People Helping People (PHP) is a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged families and individuals in the Santa Ynez and Los Alamos Valleys.
Hidden Gems Of California
The Quail H Ranch in Happy Canyon of Santa Ynez, CA will be the new site for the 5th Annual Hidden Gems of California event. Hidden Gems features a wine tasting and judging of home wine makers’ wines and those of small “boutique” professional winemakers. These hard to find wine gems either that cannot be found elsewhere or are in limited distribution.
This annual event benefiting People Helping People’s children’s programs, is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th , from 3-6 PM and will showcase wines from local wine-making hobbyists and small production professionals. Click Here To Read The Full Article
Horse rescue, winemaking merge at Solvang estate
August 02, 2015 7:30 AM – Mary Ann Norbom
As Peg Crowley gently pets Scout’s face, the Quarter horse appears to nuzzle her in return, perhaps in gratitude for the life he’s come to live. Crowley rescued Scout three years ago after discovering the then 36-year-old horse, painfully thin and in failing health, being worked on a ranch in Santa Maria.
Rarely do horses live beyond 30, but rarely do horses have a retirement home as grand as they do with Crowley and her husband, Mike Crowley, on their property in Solvang.
The property combines Peg and Mike’s dual passions. With a vineyard of just under three acres producing award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon wines under their Pegasus Estate Winery label, and paddocks, a pasture and barn for their rescue horses, the couple, said Peg, have made their “dream come true.”
Peg Crowley grew up in Southern California, in the shadows of the Santa Anita Race Track, loving horses for as long as she can remember. “I did not come from wealth or money. I was passionate about horses, though, and I remember my father taking me to a stable and lifting me up so I could pet them,” she said.
She went on to a successful career in sales, traveling the country for a variety of companies, and always, when time permitted, stopping in Napa and Sonoma Counties, Paso Robles and Santa Ynez, exploring the premium wines being produced in those regions.
Mike was born and raised in the horse capital of the country, Lexington, Kentucky, where he spent many hours in the company of the equine world’s top athletes. His career in pharmaceutical sales had him living in Europe for a number of years, and he often found himself vacationing in the Bordeaux region of France, home to the world’s most legendary Carbernet Sauvignon wines.
Decades later, when these two horse and wine lovers married, they dreamed of a life that would incorporate both of those passions. They found it in 2007 when they bought 10 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley. For now it’s a second home for the couple. They own a biotech company in Oceanside, live in nearby Carlsbad, and have partnerships in racehorses at Del Mar. “I’m up here about 50 percent of the time. For Mike it’s more like 25 percent,” she said.
“We bought the property with the intent of planting a vineyard, and it started going in almost from the first day,” Peggy Crowley recalled. “It was our goal to have single lot, very high end cabernet. We want to use only our own sourced grapes which means we can only bottle about 430-450 cases a year.” Locally, it’s available at El Rancho Market.
So intent was the couple on producing only the very best product, they contracted with pioneering winemaker Ken Brown to be the winemaker for Pegasus. Their first vintage, 2010 released in 2012, won several awards. They donated the entire release to charity. “We believe in giving back,” Crowley said.
Giving back to racehorses resulted from their professional involvement with the sport. Cooper, a Quarter horse, was one of those lucky ones. “Cooper was a winning racehorse and was being pushed really hard. He kept getting quarter cracks (a hoof capsule defect) in his feet so he was going to have to come off the track,” Crowley said. The owner was most probably going to send him to slaughter, so Crowley arranged to adopt him. On the morning she planned to pick the horse up, she was notified that he had been severely injured. A groom had “shanked him,” she said. The horse bolted and ended up on his back in a ravine with what was believed to be a broken hip. “I’d already made a commitment to rescue this horse, so I went ahead with it even though it was a very scary proposition,” she said. “It turned out he hadn’t broken his hip but his muscles and ligaments and everything were a disaster. We spent a year and a half on almost daily rehab and brought him full circle. He’s a wonderful guy. I ride him trail. I ride him English. We can put friends on him. He’s a really easy going guy.” Crowley emphasized that she is not running a nonprofit. She cannot take in a horse left at her gate. But when she becomes aware of a situation like Cooper or Scout’s, she will rescue when possible. “When we can, we rehab and re-home them,” she explained. “We don’t hoard. We do our best to send them on their way.”
The Crowley vineyard is surrounded by 400 rose bushes, 100 fruit and nut trees, and 5,000 honeysuckle vines, all of which they planted to create a park-like environment. Horse trails run by either side. “There are trails people had used here for years, and we were not going to shut them off.” she said.
The wisdom and generosity that went into that decision also stands behind the name of their winery and the artwork on its label: a white winged horse. The winged horse Pegasus is one of the best-known figures in Greek mythology and is often used to symbolize wisdom. For the Pegasus Estate Winery label, he’s appropriately seen flying over a vineyard.