Santa Margarita vineyard gets a visit from a wine grape-loving black bear

Even Santa Margarita wildlife can’t resist the taste of San Luis Obispo County wine grapes.

Staff at Ancient Peaks Winery spotted a large black bear — they estimate it could stand as tall as 6 feet on its hind legs — on the Santa Margarita Ranch property.

“I’ve lived in North County all my life, and I’ve seen a lot of bears, but never one this big,” said Jody Langford, an Ancient Peaks employee.

Langford, who photographed the bear, said it stayed clear of ranch workers and Margarita Adventures zip lines. He’s also captured photos of the bald eagles that sometimes visit the ranch.

The winery’s owners say bears will come from the Santa Lucia Mountains to chow down on the vineyard’s grapes during harvest season.

“Our vineyard is sustainably farmed,” said Karl Wittstrom, an Ancient Peaks co-owner. “Part of sustainability is sharing, and we are happy to share. As we say, ‘Promote sustainability — feed the bear!’”

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.