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Copyright © 2016
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for March 15, 2000


The Peju Debut...Doom & Gloom


The Napa vintners opposed Tony Peju's winery because they said he wasn't a serious winemaker.

...Wine and Spirits Magazine

The Rest of the Story

Peju NOT SERIOUS! Wait just one darn minute. It hadn't been easy. Twenty years earlier Tony Peju (pay-zhoo) had fled Azerbaijan with only $300 in his pocket. From England it was on to Los Angeles, directing plays at night and delivering flowers during the days. Then, he and his bride, Herta, went into the florist business on their own, generated enough funds to purchase a 30-acre ranch in the Napa Valley, and put stainless steel fermentation tanks on a concrete pad.

And now, in 1985, stalled by legal action, Tony took his U.C.-Davis training, his wife's enthusiasm and his wonderful Rutherford Cabernet grapes to another winery. His first vintage (1986) in time wins a Best of Region at the California State Fair and a Double Gold at the San Francisco Wine Fair.

Needless to say, the Pejus won the suit and by 1991 had those tanks surrounded by a handsome winery and beautiful grounds. Ironically, what had been derided 15 years ago as a "chain-link winery" (a fence around those tanks) today is a leading tourist attraction.

Hence, today's wine is a beautiful Cab from a beautiful winery...Tony's 10th vintage.

1996 Peju Province Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Owners—Herta and Anthony Peju
Winemaker—Anthony Peju
Production—15,000 cases annually
Comments by my Presidio Cafe panel:

  • Anonymous lady—"Tasty, tasty!"
  • Edgar Vogt—"Awesome fruit"
  • David Jones—"Rich black cherry nose and palate"
Contact - Herta Peju (707) 963-3600, FAX (707) 963-8680 e-mail @ www.
Price—$32 range


Anthony Peju was not alone in starting a new winery in the Napa Valley. When he first looked over properties in 1979, there were less than 100 Napa County wineries. By the time he completed his winery in 1991, the total had more than doubled, topping 250.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created March 2000