Napa Valley AVA
Marvelous artistic flair with a keen sense of business
An unlikely business alliance between two prestigious San Francisco families has produced a prominent Napa Valley winery that has garnered numerous critical accolades since its inception in 1995.
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 named 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 name tag 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 53 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 to reach 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. "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.”
Failure? “Yes,” Conover affirmed. “We firmly believe that you must fail before you can ultimately succeed. In the end, it’s the person’s success that we care about and our employees have embraced that 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. What's more, their 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon earned 100 Points from Robert Parker, marking just the second time in history that a wine under screw cap received this award.
We know you will enjoy this month’s Platinum Wine Club selection from PlumpJack. A good many wine industry insiders feel it would be uncool to think anything else.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
We are pleased to share our beloved PlumpJack Merlot with you. Often times, this is a wine that turns non-Merlot drinkers into Merlot lovers.
While it all starts in the vineyards, and this happens to be a particularly special one in the Oak Knoll AVA, there is a secret ingredient that makes this the perfect pairing for your summer BBQ’s. . . 10% American Oak is used in the aging process that brings out the char of anything you throw on the grill to create a mouthwatering, perfect pairing! We highly recommend it with a classic burger.
We hope you enjoy this unique wine as much as our team does. Open this today or savor for 10+ years to come, and your palate will thank you!
John Conover, Managing Partner and Aaron Miller, Winemaker
PlumpJack Family of Wines