Once you pull off Highway 29 south of St. Helena into the artistically planted and pruned grounds of Peju Province Winery, you know you’ve come across something special. The estate grounds are an oasis of manicured gardens, fountains, art and architecture. And, inside the well-appointed tasting room, Peju’s wines speak for themselves.
An Evolution of Varietals
When owner and founder Tony Peju bought the 30-acre property in 1983, he figured he might as well make wine with the 22 acres of vineyards planted there—Cabernet Sauvignon and Colombard. But he didn’t know a thing about winemaking, according to Tasting Room Ambassador Joey Tipton. That first batch went right down the drain.
After some education and a little time, Peju made a second batch of Cabernet Sauvignon, which ended up winning double golds and other awards at wine competitions.
The Peju family—Tony, wife Herta and daughters Lisa and Ariana—began selling their wine out of thir garage. They completed the grand tasting room in 2003, a design conceived by Tony Peju before he even purchased the property. An early drawing of his vision graces each label of Peju wine.
Now, visitors can revel in the opulence of the tasting room and enjoy a range of varietals all grown on Peju-owned vineyards in Napa Valley. Winemaker Sara Fowler delivers masterpiece standards, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as rarer finds, like 100 percent Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Peju also creates a few unique blends, including the Provence, a refreshing and approachable blend of red and white wines common to southern France, where Tony spent much of his childhood.
Delighting all the Senses
While great wine is certainly the draw attracting visitors to Peju, other delights await throughout the winery.
In the Tower of the tasting room, Peju has installed a wall of German-made stained glass that is 110 years old and features the three graces of Greek mythology. Also in that room, you might come across Alan Arnopole, a tasting room ambassador who has worked at the winery for more than 20 years, and sings and plays guitar as he educates visitors about Peju and its wines.
The estate’s walls are covered with arts and crafts of all kinds, reflecting the Pejus’ love of art. Upstairs, above the tasting room, features works from primarily local artists.
“Both Tony and Herta Peju are great art lovers…and felt that having art on the walls was extremely important,” said Emily Byrne, associate brand manager. “Our gallery is wonderful because it allows us to have seasonally rotating art, keeping the creative spirit fresh.”
Peju’s gardens are a work of art as well. Tony Peju, a trained horticulturist, has created a carefully crafted outdoor spaces teeming with manicured lawns, perfectly pruned flowering plants and trees accessed by meandering footpaths around the estate.
A series of raised garden beds at the edge of the vineyards provides fresh produce for Peju’s wine and food events.
Excelling With Pairings
Peju offers an artisan cheese and wine pairing series featuring seasonal menus using produce from the winery’s gardens. The cheeses come from small, local creameries, such as Point Reyes Farmstead and Nicasio Valley Cheese Company.
The pairing series is part of a greater launch of Peju’s “Kitchen-to-Kitchen” program, with wine and culinary explorations from Peju’s executive chef with local small-farm cheese and wine pairings, house made jams and spices as well as interactive culinary experiences and luncheons.