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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

Peju Winery - Open Late and Worth the Wait

Monday, September 13, 2010
It was Sunday afternoon on Labor Day and the afternoon was rapidly appoaching 3:30 pm. Not wanting to rush our tasting at Miner Winery, we cancelled out appointment at Darioush and were then faced with the challenge of finding a finalwinery we could visit late in the afternoon. One of the things I find frustrating about wine tasting in Napa, is that most Wineries and Tasting Rooms close by 5:00 pm. That said, there are a couple of wineries that stay open later than most. Peju is one of the few Napa wineries that is open until 6:00 pm, and as an added incentive- their wines are actually quite delicious, and offer a number of varietals that will ensure a style of wine for everyone. Peju’s collectionof varietals includes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and their blends and Rose. The aesthetically inclined will be instantly taken with Peju’s 50 foot Oxidized Copper Tasting Room tower (it is impossible to miss from Highway 29), surrounded by a reflective pool and fountains, antique 10’ x 20’ antique stained glass window, art collection and tasteful gift shop.So what’s the story behind the interesting architecture and massive tower? In 1980, Tony Peju commissioned an architect named Calvin Straub from Southern California to create a tower that resembled a French Provincial Tower. The structure encloses 1600 square feet, built from stucco and stonewith posts made from lumber reclaimed Midwestern barns. Tony Peju was also behind the uniquely-pruned sycamore trees that line Peju’s entrance. As youapproach, you’ll notice the trees all bend as if being blown in the same direction by a strong wind!
Tony and Herta Peju oversee the abundant and constantly changing gardens at Peju, which flourish with roses, a Koi pond, a Camphora Tree with rosemary surrounding its base, and ever-changing flower beds. Peju also showcases the work of Bay Area artists on a rotating basis. Although you can see the art at the winery daily, the artist is scheduled on the property to visit with guests once a month - definitely worth checking the calendar ahead of time if you are a buyer!

After strolling through the gardens, you can walk right into the Peju TastingRoom and the friendly staff (ask for Brendan) will arrange a tasting for you within the half hour most of the time. Your tasting is done at one of two unique wooden tasting bars. Our “Wine Ambassador”, a witty guy who resembled Steve Martin in look and personality, let us select the wines we wanted to try...which were numerous! The tasting fees range from $15 - $25, though waived if you purchase at least a bottle of wine - extremely easy to do, as they are all delicious and generally well-priced! If you come with a group however, tastings should be arranged in advance and Peju can also offer a Library Tasting in a private tasting room. Below are some of my favorite wines from our tasting:

Sauvignon Blanc: Classic crisp citrus flavors and also pungent and acidic pineapple notes - a lot more tropical than you’d expect. Buttery, smooth and fresh with nice balance between tropical fruits and tangy grapefruit and citrus.
Provence: This rose-colored wine, served chilled, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel with Chardonnay and French Colombard. Juicy, bright and fun - what the Queen’s tarts would have tasted like in Alice in Wonderland - bright red, glazed berries- think raspberry, cranberry, or strawberry rhubarb, with a light floral bouquet
and a buttery finish.
2006 Estate Syrah: Deep, dark, cooked jammy fruit mulled in spices and vanilla. This wine tasted like a chocolate raspberry layer cake sprinkled with a dusting of spicy cocoa powder. The tannins are firm but smooth and the wine is balances and a beautiful shade of garnet.

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