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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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
It was coming up on 3:30 pm. We were still at Miner Winery and needed to grab a snack before we imbibed any more wine. Only problem is that in Napa, most Wineries and Tasting Rooms close by 5:00 pm. If you ever find yourself driving along Highway 29 and hoping to squeeze in one more tasting, Peju is the winery you should stop at. Peju is one of the few Napa wineries that is open until 6:00 pm, and their wines are actually worth tasting, offering nice variety and something for everyone - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and their blends and Rose.

The Winery is fun to visit with its 50 foot Tasting Room tower, surrounded by a reflective pool and fountains, an antique 10’ x 20’ antique stained glass window, art collection and well-stocked gift shop, and it is impossible to miss from the Highway with it’s stand-out oxidized copper tower roof. So what’s with the 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, is built from stucco and stone and it’s posts are made from lumber reclaimed from old Midwestern barns. Tony Peju was also behind the strangely-pruned sycammore trees that line Peju’s entrance - 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 abound 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. Art can be viewed at the winery daily, and once a month, the artist is scheduled on the property to answer any questions and assist with any folks who are wish to purchase.

After strolling through the gardens, you can walk right into the Peju Tasting Room 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” was kind enough to let us select the wines we wanted to try...educating us on each one and was definitely generous when we asked for additional tastes beyond our selection. The tasting fees range from $15 - $25, although they are waived if you purchase at least a bottle of wine, which is easy to do, as they are all delicious! A private group tasting 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: This wine gave off crisp citrus flavors and also pungent and acidic pineapple notes. The wine was smooth and fresh and had a great 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. This wine was juicy, bright and fun - what the Queen’s tarts would have tasted like in Alice in Wonderland - red, and juicy fruits - think raspberry, cranberry, or strawberry rhubarb, with a light floral bouquet.

2006 Estate Syrah: Deep, dark, cooked jammy fruits. This wine tasted like a chocolate raspberry chocolate cake with spicy cocoa powder on top. The tannins are firm but smooth and the wine is balances and a beautiful shade of garnet.

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