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Before PlumpJack Estate Winery’s inception, just a humble wine store opened in 1992 in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco called PlumpJack Wines. Then, based on mutual love and passion for wine, California Governor Gavin Newsom and composer/philanthropist Gordon Getty opened the wine store, providing an approachable environment to learn about and shop for wine.

Newsom and Getty were inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Sir John “PlumpJack” Falstaff. A down-to-earth, fun-loving, irreverent character, he was rivaled only by his fierce loyalty to Prince Hal (Henry V), with whom he shares more than a few goblets of sack (wine) at the local tavern. With this philosophy in mind and an opportunity to create their winery, Newsom and Getty acquired a century-old 42-acre vineyard in Napa Valley.

Dating back to 1881, this property is one of the oldest operating wineries in Napa Valley, known then as Mount Eden Winery. After Repeal, the vineyard was kept up as part of the Fagiani Ranch. In 1974, proprietors James and Anne McWilliams restored winemaking to the old ranch with winemaker Nils Venge and brought the vineyard to prominence with dynamic, long-lived wines under the name of Villa Mt. Eden Winery.

In 1986, the McWilliams sold the Villa Mt. Eden brand to Stimson Lane Wine & Spirits, a subsidiary of the U.S. Tobacco Co.  This deal allowed Stimson Lane access to the vineyards through a property lease, but the wine was made offsite. In 1994, Stimson Lane gave up the lease on the Oakville estate vineyard property and moved the Villa Mt. Eden brand to its current home at Conn Creek Winery.

In 1995, the McWilliams received another offer to bring winemaking back to the historic facility – it was then that PlumpJack Estate Winery was born. Newsom and Getty vowed to celebrate the convivial spirit of the namesake at the winery by paying tribute to the world-class vineyard by crafting high-quality wines that honored the land with an inviting and approachable style.

In 1999, Newsom and Getty sought to bring someone into the winery to help run the winery operations and turn their business love into an established brand. That person was longtime wine industry executive John Conover, who joined PlumpJack as General Manager to provide strategic direction for the newly acquired property in both the vineyards and production facility. Conover quickly made his mark, steadily increasing production from 1,000 to 10,000 cases annually and developing an image, brand awareness, and global distribution that would ultimately sustain this amplified production.

In 2000, PlumpJack Estate Winery would forever change the wine world. There was a growing epidemic of cork taint, more formally known as trichloroanisole (TCA), which delivers undesirable smells or tastes to the wine in the bottle. The culprit: the cork. It wasn’t something Getty would stand for, spurring Conover to innovate. The answer was screw caps—a closure with zero influence of TCA and more bottle consistency and uniformity. Pioneers in this endeavor, PlumpJack Estate Winery introduced their 1997 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, at the Napa Valley Wine Auction by bottling 50% of their flagship wine under a screw cap closure. Industry leaders using alternative closures for luxury wines, PlumpJack Estate Winery, made a considerable statement representing their commitment to quality and their spirit of approachability.

Today, Winemaker Aaron Miller and his team continue the winemaking heritage at PlumpJack Estate Winery by producing elegant wines that pay tribute to the Oakville estate vineyard and earn critical acclaim. In 2016, PlumpJack Estate Winery earned 100-points from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate on their 2013 PlumpJack Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, marking just the second time in history that wine under a screw cap closure has received this award.

The Wine

Our wines are a reflection of our unique terroir, the passion and precision of our winemaker Aaron Miller, and our commitment to craft wines that consistently express the distinct qualities of our estate vineyards in the Oakville appellation.

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