Peju Province Winery Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2019

Deep ruby color; raspberry, dark cherry, blackberry, strawberry, redcurrant, cranberry, bell pepper-herbaceous notes, oak, tobacco on the nose and palate.

Peju Province Winery Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2019

Dry; intense dark fruit, sour cherry; puckering tannic bite with balancing acidity. Full body. Brooding power framed by oak and acidity. Cabernet franc is one parent—sauvignon blanc is the other—of cabernet sauvignon. This pour flexes the muscle you also get in cabernet sauvignon. 14.5% ABV

Peju Province Winery is the dream of Tony Peju, born “on the Caspian Sea” according to the website—it does not specify a country. Tony came to the US to get into the film industry, but ended up building a successful florist and nursery business. That made the to move into wine relatively seamless. In 1983, the Pejus—Tony and his wife Herta Behensky—settled into 30 acres in Rutherford with Robert Mondavi, Inglenook, and Beaulieu as neighbors.

Tony first focused on improving a 5.5-acre block planted in cabernet sauvignon. That block became the foundation of the wine business today. The vineyard was replanted in disease-resistant stock that became the HB clone (named for the wife). The Rutherford Estate Vineyard earned organic certification in 2007. Winemaker Sara Fowler continues Peju’s commitment to organic farming. In 2009, Peju was certified as a Napa County Green Winery & Bay Area Green Business after achieving all standards in pollution prevention, conservation of resources and environmental compliance. In April 2007, Peju offered long-term employees a $2,000 cash incentive to purchase a hybrid vehicle.

Peju family
Peju Winery tower
Peju entrance

Peju was a trailblazer in other areas. Early on, when the Pejus opened a tasting room in the family garage, Napa officials recoiled and a lawsuit ensued that eventually changed the legal rules for winery tasting rooms in Napa. The winery-tasting room today extends the Paju dream. The website notes: “Today, the complex is a far cry from the converted garage. The winery is impeccable, surrounded by two acres of gardens, pathways and fountains. Sculpted sycamore trees provide a landmark border as visitors enter an environment that reflects both Tony and Herta’s deep interest in horticulture, art and landscape.”

Peju family

Two generations of the Peju family work in the winery. Peju daughters Lisa and Ariana toil alongside their parents. The website notes: “The entire family is deeply committed to sustainable farming practices to ensure that the land that produces award-winning wines will be preserved for future generations. With the sun as a plentiful partner in the Napa Valley, Ariana Peju launched the ‘Harvesting of the Sun’ project by taking Peju solar in 2006. Caring for the air, as well as the land she grew up on is her priority.”

Peju vineyards

Peju Province Winery Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2019 is burly, grippy, big boy wine. Faint of palate beware, but if your idea of heaven is a sizzling, well-marbled steak and rich, full-bodied wine, brother, welcome to paradise. Pair with beef; pork—barbecued pork, baby back ribs; wild game—venison, boar; barbecue and roasted chicken; Philly cheesesteak; meat lover pizza with sausage, bacon, black olives, green bell peppers. The fare must have stout flavors to stand up to this wine. Cheese—hard cheeses; cheddar, manchego, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, humbolt fog. $65-72

Peju website

Peju winemaker Sara Fowler
Peju winery gate
Peju tasting room
Peju harvest dance sculpture
Peju Girl on Bench sculpture
Napa Valley Appellation map; dots indicate vineyards Peju uses as grape sources