A Compelling Mix Of Old & New
When I worked in Alaska, I overheard a fellow photographer say, “I can’t fit all this in my viewfinder!” Sometimes, you need a wider lens.
Peju is like that. Familiar yet full of surprises. Historic, but now led by a new generation. Serious but fun. Where to begin?
Let’s start with the obvious, those Dr. Seuss trees that invite you down the lane to the winery, often dressed in lights during the holiday season. Founders Tony and Herta Peju had the now overly cleaver genius notion to bend tall Sycamore trees over the driveway, a distinctive feature hard to miss from the St. Helena Highway.
But Tony had a bigger vision and that too, has become a Napa Valley landmark. The Tower. It was two decades after purchasing the 30-acre estate that the now iconic centerpiece moved from a visionary sketch to a signature stone-faced European styled tasting tower with an impressive weathered copper roof topped by a unicorn weathervane that just might be the highest point on a winery in Napa.
The massive front door was hand carved and depicts the Greek goddess Persephone, who inspires and watches over the growing season. Inside, further delights follow as you realize that recycled and reclaimed materials have been used here, with salvaged lumber from Midwest farms joining Brazilian cherrywood and Turkish tiles. A version of that original Tower sketch is now an integral part of the Peju labels.
Award-winning wines join award-winning Teddy Bear sunflowers that turn to follow the sun. Not to be overly cleverly, but the sun shines on long-time winemaker Sarah Fowler’s wines as well, consistently gathering medals and acclaim that declare them to be among the Valley’s best.
With sisters Lisa and Ariana Peju now leading the winery, the mix of old and new continues. Traditional tasting room experiences are available without reservations, including the Peju tasting in the Tower, where current releases are offered in presentation style among wonders like the 10' x 20' three-piece antique stained glass created in Germany in 1906, depicting three of the Greek muses in a beautiful garden. Both a Classic and Reserve level experience is offered, featuring unexpected blends and Peju perfect interpretations of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Zinfandel. There are winery-only surprises sure to delight.
Reservations are required for groups (eight or more) or for the Rutherford Dust Experience, an hour-long deep dive into Cabernet Sauvignon in the growing region surrounding the winery. A bit of history, a bit of conversation about French and American oak, toast levels and terroir. Prepare to use your eyes and olfactories.
For groups of four or more – maybe even a lot more – visit the website to learn about culinary adventures that range from a farm-to-table luncheon to private cooking classes to culinary experiences that might include making a meal together in the vineyard, or a constantly evolving seasonal food and wine pairing available most weekends at mid-day seatings.
Wander through Peju and you’ll immediately see the influence of the founders. Tony, the trained horticulturalist, who along with his wife “HB” crafted a wondrous delight of Insta-worthy spaces that meander throughout the grounds. In fact, don’t be surprised to run into HB doing a bit of gardening. This is, after all, home.