Napa Valley AVA
Marvelous artistic flair with a keen sense of business
It all began in 1992 when Gordon Getty (of Getty Oil and Getty Museum fame) decided to cast his lot with then youthful Gavin Newsom and open a small wine shop at the corners of Fillmore and Greenwich in San Francisco’s storied Marina District.
Getty’s main passions in life were music and wine, but not necessarily in that order. The initial shop flourished and three years later the fledgling company purchased an incredible property in Oakville (the highly respected former Villa Mt. Eden Winery) and named it after the wine store that had already been called PlumpJack.
It seems that the artistic Gordon Getty had once written an opera fashioned after the Shakespearean character Jack Falstaff that he called PlumpJack. The name carried certain panache and the winery name soon followed its retail counterpart. At the time, no one envisioned this to be the foundation of a youthful, dynamic company – a business that today lists several restaurants, two wine shops, two boutique clothing stores, two luxury resorts, and a trendy club, along with the aforementioned PlumpJack Winery, in its highly visible portfolio. It is also interesting that several of the businesses carry the PlumpJack nametag or a derivative thereof.
What’s more, Gavin Newsom served as the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco from 2003 to 2011, when he resigned as the Lieutenant Governor of California. He was San Francisco’s youngest Mayor in history – no mean feat for the persuasive and personable 47 year-old. It’s up in the air whether Newsom’s future will remain in politics and public service, or if he will become more involved with his PlumpJack Winery enterprise. Only time will tell.
PlumpJack Winery’s persona embodies the feeling and spirit of its owners and staff. From the marvelous artistic flair that Gordon Getty has provided from its inception to Gavin Newsom’s keen sense of business discipline, it is immediately evident that PlumpJack and its incredible wines are an amazing reality in today’s competitive wine industry. It is also a given fact that Getty and Newsom have provided the winery with effective leadership and a style of management that is both confident and highly qualified.
Starting with its original release of less than 1,500 cases in 1995, the winery has grown steadily until it has reached its present capacity of 10,000 cases.
“We are where we want to be,” remarked PlumpJack General Manager John Conover. “First, we have reached our winery permit’s level and, secondly, they aren’t building any more Oakville.”
Facetiousness aside, PlumpJack Winery literally sits among the true giants of Napa Valley. Its neighbors include Screaming Eagle and Dalle Valle, modern icons whose wines usually sell for hundreds of dollars per bottle.
“We have also tried to offer tremendous value and service,” Conover adds proudly. “In our restaurants, we offer our wines at retail price plus one dollar (in deference to many restaurants that mark up 200 to 300 percent). We also stick to our core values. We want our customers to be greeted by people with great enthusiasm and passion for what they are doing. We even give our staff at the winery an award for failure.”
“Yes,” Conover affirmed. “We firmly believe that you must first fail before you can ultimately succeed. In the end, it’s the person’s success that we care about and our employees have embraced the concept.”
Interestingly, the words and resolution involved seem quite natural when taken in context with PlumpJack Winery. The company is a fresh, hip, dynamic entity with loads of youthful energy oozing from every portal.
PlumpJack turned every head in the wine world when they bottled their $135 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve with a screw top closure – the first luxury wine producer to do so. Even though the decision involved cork integrity (an alarming 10 percent of all wines are considered “corked” or undrinkable when opened), the move raised eyebrows both in this country and abroad.
PlumpJack’s owners fully supported the move and, the fact is, PlumpJack makes some great wines that are always in high demand. Because of this fact we know you will enjoy this month’s Diamond Series Wine Club selection from PlumpJack. A good many wine industry insiders feel it would be uncool to think anything else.
Dear Platinum Series Wine Club Members,
We hope that you are enjoying the holiday season, as we certainly are here in the Napa Valley! 2014 marked our twentieth harvest off of our Estate in Oakville, and we are thrilled with how spectacular this vintage is shaping up. While we wait patiently for this great vintage now aging gracefully in barrel, we can enjoy those already in bottle, which includes our very special 2012 PlumpJack Merlot, Napa Valley, that is included in this month’s wine club shipment.
In 2012, we saw all of the stars align. A classic vintage, we experienced beautiful conditions from start to finish. The spring was mild, which allowed for a normal budbreak. The weather held through spring, resulting in ideal conditions for bloom and set. The summer months were consistently warm with cool nights, and our grapes were slowly gaining sugars while the flavors were developing and the tannins were maturing. This trend carried over into the fall, allowing us to let our fruit hang on the vine to develop deep and intense flavors and aromatics with a beautiful, refined tannin. This perfect storm of events allowed us to craft a wine that is full and robust, with a concentrated palate. The wine reflects sheer elegance and wonderful natural acidity that lifts this wine from start to finish.
At PlumpJack, we pride ourselves on paying homage to our namesake, Sir Jack ‘PlumpJack’ Falstaff, by celebrating his convivial spirit, and creating wines that are inviting and approachable from day one.
We hope you enjoy the wine, and that you’ll come share a glass or two with us here at PlumpJack!
PlumpJack Estate Winery