Founded in 1995 by Gavin Newsom and Gordon Getty, PlumpJack Winery is part of the burgeoning PlumpJack Group, which began with a wine shop in San Francisco and now includes CADE and Odette wineries, The Carneros Inn and FARM Restaurant, PlumpJack Sport clothing stores, and more. The name itself is an homage to the famous character in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” Sir John “PlumpJack” Falstaff, who embodies the approachable, inviting spirit of the wines.
The rustic estate lies in the heart of Oakville, near the intersection of Oakville Cross Road and the Silverado Trail. This area was created eons ago by landslides that swept down from the Vaca Mountains, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape. The vineyard and winery both date to the 1800s, when the valley floor property was first planted by early California winemakers. Most recently the site belonged to James and Anne McWilliams who made wine under the Villa Mt. Eden label.
The 42-acre vineyard at PlumpJack sits on a mix of three soils. On its east side, there is deep, gravelly, iron-rich volcanic soil, straight from the mountains; in the center of the property and to the west, a mixture of gravelly, sedimentary seafloor soils; furthest west, on the border of the property, towards the Napa River, are loamy, more clay-rich soils. Each type is dramatically different, yielding equally different components in the wines. The eastern soils produce concentrated black/blue fruit notes, while those to the west show more red fruit — cherry and raspberry — with softer tannins and hints of sage, mint, and herbs.
Winemaker Aaron Miller makes an Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley Syrah, and a Napa Valley Merlot. These are beautifully crafted wines that range from affordable and upfront to pricier, concentrated, and long-lived.