PlumpJack Winery was founded by former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, businessman and philanthropist, Gordon Getty and partners. This property is located on the eastern side of the Oakville Cross Road; nearby prestigious neighbors include Screaming Eagle, Groth & Rudd. This winery is only one part of the entire complex of PlumpJack holdings including restaurants, cafes, clothing, and resorts including in Carmel and Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley). Plumpjack used to own the Carneros Inn, near the city of Napa.
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 became a part of Conn Creek Winery).
The drive in to PlumpJack is along a very narrow winding road directly through the vineyards. Tour buses and large limo’s are not 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 early 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 excellent 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 it’s 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 vineyard sites has its advantages. The Carneros fruit helps provide the acidity while the Stagecoach vineyard contributes structure and overall pleasing fruit aromas and flavors.
Their Reserve Cabernet is a robust wine that is well balanced – this seems like a contradiction to say this in the same sentence. However in this case the robust tannins are well balanced by the bright vivid fruit and good acidity.
PlumpJack owns several other wineries in the Napa Valley. Odette Estate is located along the Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap District and the original CADE Estate Winery is high on the slopes of Howell Mountain.
In 2016 Plumpjack acquired an old Ghost Winery (stone winery built with rock quarried from fairly close to where it stands – was inactive during prohibition and later revived) in the Angwin area, also on Howell Mountain. Tastings can be arranged at any of these other properties (both CADE properties are by appointment only).
PlumpJack is active in the Northern California philanthropy scene & supports a variety of charity organizations. For more information and or to join their wine club, visit: www.plumpjackwinery.com