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Plumpjack Buys Steltzner Vineyards

Newsom's and Getty's hospitality company adds vineyard in Stags Leap District to its winery collection

Augustus Weed
Posted: February 1, 2012

Plumpjack Group, the wine and hospitality company founded by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and billionaire philanthropist Gordon Getty, has acquired a prime property in Napa's Stags Leap District for a new winery. An executive at Plumpjack tells Wine Spectator that it has purchased Steltzner Vineyards' 36-acre vineyard and winery, but not the Steltzner brand. Plumpjack already owns two wineries in Napa Valley and plans to create a new brand at the Steltzner winery. The sale price was not disclosed.

“It's just a quintessential Stags Leap vineyard and it will really fit in with our portfolio of wineries,” said John Conover, general manager at Plumpjack's two current wineries. "It will be a Cabernet-focused property." Conover said a brand name for the wines has not been determined yet. He added that Plumpjack is continuing to look for more Napa Valley properties.

Richard Steltzner planted his first vineyard in the Stags Leap area in the 1960s and helped establish the appellation. He founded the Steltzner Vineyards brand with his wife, Christine, and released their first wines in 1977. The company produces a wide variety of wines, including Bordeaux varieties and Syrah. Over the years, the couple slowly expanded their winery on Stags Leap to include underground tunnels and a tasting room.

Following the sale, Steltzner will relocate operations to a new location. The Steltzner family will continue to grow grapes at other vineyards in Stags Leap and the Oak Knoll District, also in Napa.

The acquisition expands Plumpjack’s wine portfolio, which includes Plumpjack winery in Napa’s Oakville district and Cade Estate winery on Howell Mountain.

Plumpjack plans to release its first wine from the Steltzner property, a Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2011 vintage, next year. Jeff Owens, who was assistant winemaker at Cade, will take over as winemaker at the new facility. The winery will produce around 10,000 cases annually, including a second brand that will only be available at the tasting room, with the wines retailing from $30 to $150.

Newsom and Getty cofounded the Plumpjack Group after Newsom opened the Plumpjack wine shop in San Francisco in 1992. Newsom went on to buy the old Villa Mt. Eden winery in Oakville and renamed it Plumpjack Winery. In 2005, the group launched Cade Winery on Howell Mountain. The company has since grown into a small empire, with five restaurants, a nightclub, retail shops and hotels in Napa and Squaw Valley.

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