PlumpJack Winery was founded by former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom & partners. They are located on the eastern side of the Oakville Cross Road and nearby prestigious neighbors include Screaming Eagle, Groth & Rudd, all of which are premium wineries. This winery is only one part of the entire complex of PlumpJack holdings including restaurants, cafes, clothing, and resorts namely the The Carneros Inn in the Napa Valley and the Plumpjack Resort in Squaw Valley, Ca. All their holdings are named after items from the Shakespearian era and Plump Jack is the nickname Queen Elizabeth gave to one of the fictional characters that appeared in several of Shakespeare’s plays. The original “modern” PlumpJack was a wine store in San Francisco in 1992 and PlumpJack winery came on board 5 years later. This winery used to be the home for many years to the very historic Villa Mt. Eden Winery which is still in business up the road on Silverado Trail.
You drive in to PlumpJack along a very narrow winding road right through the vineyards. Theoretically no tour buses and limo’s are allowed so theoretically group sizes should be small at the tasting counter, however there are often Limos & buses in the parking lot and the tasting room can really fill up at times especially on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. The winery is small as far as Napa Wineries go; the tasting counter is intimate and there is a gift shop adjacent to the tasting counter. There is always a high energy vibe at the tasting counter which if crowded spills outside the door onto the grounds. Plumpjack is wildly popular with the late 20′s, 30′s and 40′s crowd. No appointments are necessary – just drive in. Plumpjack is a pioneer in the valley in the use of screw cap enclosures rather than corks. There are several benefits to this type of closure including no problems with corkage and hopefully more and more wineries will start using these as peoples “perceptions” of screw caps on wine change.
We tried several wines including their delightful 2006 reserve Chardonnay. Compared to most area wineries you pay a bit more for this Chardonnay but its worth the price. It undergoes no Malolactic fermentation, sees little oak during the aging and is not “oaky” or buttery, rather it is a crisp Burgundian style wine with lots of pineapple and pear notes in the nose and on the palate. Their 2005 Syrah comes from Stagecoach Vineyards high on Atlas Peak as well from the cooler Carneros region. Blending fruit from two radically different vineyards has its advantages. The Carneros fruit provides the backbone and structure to the wine and the Stagecoach vineyard gives it the overall pleasing fruit aromas and flavors. Their Reserve Cabernet is a monster wine that is well balanced which seems like a contradiction to say this in the same sentence. However in this case the huge tannins are well balanced by the incredible fruit and acidity. PlumpJack has a sister winery in the Angwin area on Howell Mountain – Cade Winery; the tasting experience there is more private, oh and with stellar views too!. PlumpJack is active in the Northern California philanthropy scene & supports a variety of charity organizations. Visit: www.plumpjackwinery.com
Wine with Tony