Harvesting through the Decades

September 26th, 2018 @ 12:00am Haley Sansom Peju History

Ariana and Lisa in 1985

This harvest season is special to us. Harvest is always a breathtaking celebration of the earth, but this time, it’s also an anniversary. It’s been 35 years since Tony Peju purchased our Rutherford Estate, 35 years since our family moved to the Napa Valley, and 35 years since we committed our lives to these vines. This year, and this harvest, we feel a little more magic than usual.
Each fall, we commence harvest with the Blessing of the Grapes, and then it begins. Among the first to be taken from the vines is the Chardonnay from our Persephone Vineyard, one of the best pages in our Peju story. Tony bought the 350-acre piece of heaven in the Pope Valley back in 1996, and she’s been paying homage to her goddess namesake ever since. During the crisp early mornings of Chardonnay harvest, we’ll reap bins upon bins piled high with that hand-picked, edible gold around 12 tons a day, to be exact.
This long-anticipated tempo of harvest will continue for weeks, without missing a beat. The red grapes like our Cabernet and Malbec will remain on the vine, taking their time to ripen, and harvest may continue on into November. Although it doesn’t last very long in respect to the growing season, harvest is a ritual that never runs short on celebration. In between the days of feasts, empty bottles, and dancing feet, a spell of science and craft becomes one in the vineyard. It’s a perfect timing between the nature of the grapes, the power of the elements, and the intuition of the winemaker.
Tony, Ariana, and Manuel in 1984
In 1985, we saw the manifestation of our chased-down dream, and our first wines were released. A lot of time, filled with long hours of growing and harvesting and winemaking, has passed since then, but laying eyes on the first riches retrieved from the vineyard is always like the first time. Two things have held strong and true these past 35 years. One, there is no experience as humbling as reaping what the earth has grown for you. And two, the pursuit of this life was worth everything and compares to nothing.
Thank you for 35 priceless years, and cheers to a momentous harvest!