Named "BEST WINERY IN NORTH AMERICA" by the Discoverer Blog, PEJU Winery began with Tony Peju daring to sell wines in an informal facility: the garage at their vineyard estate in Rutherford, Napa Valley. A lengthy legal battle ensued and Peju persisted: this became the catalyst for Napa County to create the legal definition of what a winery is which was adopted in 1991. It is no wonder that Tony is called "The Father of Custom Crush ".
Next? Reinventing how wine is marketed. Tony Peju embraced the concept of Direct-To-Consumer Wine Marketing. In 2003, daughter Lisa became the young ambassador of Peju Winery featured in weekly ads on page 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle. These first of the kind wine "edutainment" ads energized a new market. PEJU's guests grew to include young and old, amateurs and aficionados alike.
In the mid-80’s there was an ongoing debate surrounding the definition of a winery. California state law stated that a grower could sell wine at the location where it was grown. Napa County officials disagreed, and the matter went to court. A judge agreed with Tony Peju and upheld the law. In so doing, the PEJU case became instrumental in creating and providing opportunity for custom crush operations. Peju’s actions opened the doors for hundreds of vintners that had yet to arrive in the following decades. Today, Custom Crush is a common practice in Napa Valley.
The Father of Custom Crush and Direct to Consumer Wine Marketing, Tony Peju is best known for thinking out of the box before thinking out of the box was a thing. A determined visionary, he made his dream a reality by building one of the most well-loved wineries in Napa Valley. His goal has remained steadfast, to make PEJU Winery the highlight of every guests visit to Napa Valley.Read More
Making Dreams a Reality – In 1981 Peju imagined and created a sketch of a stunning tower winery with architect Calvin Straub. In 1983, Peju and his wife Herta (H.B.) bought a 30 acre property in Rutherford and together, moved to Napa Valley to raise their two young daughters and begin the work of building their winery. Starting in their garage, they worked steadily to see their dream come true with completion of the iconic PEJU tower in 2003.
Revolutionary Winemaking – In the early 80’s visitors wanted to drink red wines because of the French Paradox, however, many customers didn’t enjoy the taste. Peju imagined and created a unique red and white blend, called Province, that served as a “bridge” to introduce white wine drinkers to red wines with a softer style. At release it was an instant success, and today remains one of the winery’s best sellers.
Herta (HB) Peju was born in Austria and grew up in Venezuela. In 1983, HB and Tony Peju purchased a 30 acre property in Rutherford – the site of Peju Winery today. A steady presence in many roles in the business, she also ensures that all of the winery’s elaborate gardens and landscaping are maintained to a high standard. Guests often greet her while she is checking on the flowers and trees and overall ambiance of the winery grounds, which also encompass stunning flowers and a wide variety of trees. HB presides over a lavish garden and orchard at her home and is fond of creating delicious meals from that day’s harvest.
Born in Los Angeles, Lisa Peju came to the Napa Valley with her family when she was six years old. In 1999, she and her sister Ariana went to the Sorbonne for a summer program studying French, which foreshadowed her future as a representative of the winery traveling around the world. In 2001, Lisa and her sister accompanied their mother to Vinexpo in Bordeaux, where they saw how the wine business worked, from meeting customers to the social aspects. Lisa came back to the family business in 2010, where she first worked as a cellar intern for winemaker Sara Fowler, then began traveling to represent the winery around the world. In 2016, the family acquired a vineyard and winery in Carneros and in 2019, Calmére Estate Winery opened to the public. Lisa now represents Calmére when she travels in addition to Peju. Lisa is almost constantly on the road, whether in the U.S. or internationally.
Born in Los Angeles, Ariana Peju came to the Napa Valley with her family when she was three years old. One of Ariana’s early accomplishments was the installation of 720 solar panels spreading over 10,000 square feet of the winery roof: these provide 35% of the winery’s energy today. Ariana is directing the winery’s transition to a range of other programs, such as using energy efficient light bulbs, non-toxic and environmentally safe cleaning products and recyclable packing and biodegradable shipping materials. In 2016, a vineyard and winery in Carneros joined the portfolio. In 2019, Calmére Estate Winery opened to the public. Ariana directed the extensive renovations there.
Sara Fowler has been named Best Local Winemaker by Napa Valley Life Magazine in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Sara began working harvests and summers at Kendall-Jackson, and then pivoted to studying enology at Fresno State and becoming a winemaker. When she arrived at Peju in 2006 her first mission was to transition the estate vineyard into being organically farmed, which was accomplished in September 2007. Today she supervises the farming of the winery’s six estate vineyards in four different sub-AVAs of the Napa Valley. Sara is also the Vice President of Winemaking and Operations for Peju’s sister winery, Calmére Estate, in Carneros.