Napa Valley AVA
93-Points - Global Vintage Quarterly magazine
Jamie Pawlak of Vigil Vineyard is something of an anomaly amongst California winery owners. First of all, he is fluent in at least three languages, an achievement common in European wine circles but certainly atypical among the Golden State’s wine community. Pawlak also traces his origins in wine back to the days of his home winemaking endeavors, another salient fact that few California winery owners enjoy.
To be specific, Jamie Pawlak’s emergence as a modern day renaissance man can be traced to his days in 1983, when he was a student at Golden Gate Law School. He began making wine due to a keen interest he had developed while completing his undergraduate studies in economics at Tulane University in New Orleans and also while traveling extensively throughout Europe. Jamie’s fascination with the winemaking art was well known and appealed to another fellow student whose family lived in St. Helena in Napa Valley. After months of planning, Jamie and his friend utilized the backyard of a small home in St. Helena to produce their first wines. His initial attempts proved to be successful and Jamie soon enrolled at University of California Davis where he completed a series of courses in viticulture and enology.
As his legal career grew and flourished, Jamie Pawlak felt the need to become further involved in the wine industry. He had always enjoyed the physical and intellectual aspects of winemaking, and in 1989 decided to plunge into the wine business for real. He purchased a fifty-year-old; ten-acre vineyard located north of Calistoga at the upper end of Napa Valley and immediately reestablished the vineyards that were originally planted in Zinfandel, Carignane and Refosco. The idyllic vineyard was located at the foot of Mt. St. Helena and ultimately provided the fruit for the original release in the early 1990’s of Vigil Vineyard’s first proprietary red called Terra Vin.
Speaking of the name Vigil Vineyard, Pawlak chose to delve deep into his roots for his winery’s name inspiration. Pawlak traced the name back through his family; in fact Vigil was the name of his Apache ancestors. Drawing modern parallels, Pawlak feels his Indian ancestors held a deep respect for the earth, very similar to his own views that have resulted in Vigil Vineyard’s certification as a California Organic Vineyard, another tribute to its founder’s dedication and insight. Jamie Pawlak hopes that one day all of Vigil Vineyard’s fruit can be certified organic and works closely with his outside growers to achieve that lofty goal.
In the past decade, as Vigil Vineyard has grown and Vigil has been forced to buy outside fruit to meet its needs. Most sources are nearby, in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino. Some fruit comes from the Central Valley around the City of Lodi. This fruit is generally picked from older vines and compliments the estate fruit available to the winery.
The small winery building is itself state of the art, and was completed in 1995. Its production has grown on a consistent basis and today is slightly over 18,000 cases.
Jamie Pawlak stays actively involved in Vigil’s winemaking activities along with winemaker Mike Loftus. He is particularly interested in Zinfandels, Cabernets and Rhone blends that he feels truly appeal to the American palate.
He is especially proud of his early racking techniques and proper fining for his wines. “We utilize these methods to build the full, round mouthfeel and soft silky finish we want in our final product,” he explains. “We want each consumer to know when they are enjoying a bottle of Vigil.”
Vigil Vineyard’s reputation has steadily risen and now enjoys a niche reputation among Napa wineries. If the persistence and dedication of its founder are any indication, Vigil’s stock and reputation will continue to grow in the future. We are pleased to present this Platinum Series Wine club selection to you.