Home Industry News Releases Peju Winery Founder and Napa Valley Pioneer Tony Peju Dies at 85

Peju Winery Founder and Napa Valley Pioneer Tony Peju Dies at 85

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Napa, CA (June 15, 2023) – Anthony “Tony” Peju, wine industry pioneer and founder of PEJU Winery, passed away in his Calistoga home on June 10, 2023 at the age of 85.

An industry trailblazer, Tony Peju redefined Napa Valley four decades ago as he successfully championed the right of winemakers and grape growers to sell wine made from their own grapes, paving the way for the hundreds of wineries that do so today. In founding PEJU, Tony Peju broke the mold and cultivated his brand of Wine Country experience through a “guest-first” company culture and direct-to-consumer marketing approach that led to loyal employees and thousands of vocal fans. 

Born in 1937, Tony immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. He and wife Herta Peju owned successful flower shops and a nursery in Southern California, but Tony had grander dreams. In 1981, he designed a logo for the PEJU brand and in collaboration with architect Calvin Straub, he envisioned the design of a beautiful winery with stunning towers. With that vision in mind and drawing in hand, Tony and Herta bought a 30-acre property in Rutherford in 1983, moved to Napa Valley to raise their two young daughters, and began making and selling wines out of their garage. In 2003, Tony completed the iconic tower he envisioned twenty years prior, once again making his mark by constructing the tallest building in Napa County at the time of opening. In relentless pursuit of his vision, Tony pushed boundaries, questioned the status quo, and changed the wine industry forever.

“Today we lost a force of nature,” said his wife Herta. “Tony was relentless and had incredible drive and perseverance, which enabled him to overcome all obstacles to make his vision a reality.”

Ahead of the estate’s 40th anniversary this year, Tony formally handed over the business to his two daughters, Lisa and Ariana, who continue to champion his mission to “make PEJU the highlight of every guest’s visit to Napa Valley.” While the next generation is now at the helm, Tony’s impact remains visible throughout the Rutherford estate, from sculptures which decorate the grounds, to the iconic sycamore trees, to the koi fish in the pond.

Tony Peju is survived by his wife and three children, Michelle, Lisa, and Ariana, along with his son-in-law and two grandchildren. A full obituary paying homage to Tony’s life, career, and Napa Valley contributions can be found on the PEJU website here.

About PEJU Winery

Situated in the heart of Napa Valley, PEJU Winery was founded by industry trailblazers Tony and Herta “HB” Peju, who broke the mold and designed the Wine Country experience that guests know and love today. A family-owned and operated estate comprising six vineyard estates totaling 616 acres, PEJU is now helmed by second-generation owners Lisa and Ariana Peju alongside longtime winemaker Sara Fowler. The Rutherford estate is an ode to beauty, in wine and art alike, anchored by a whimsical 50-foot tower, immaculate gardens, a curated sculpture collection, and a stunning stained glass window from 1906. Known for its warm hospitality and approachable exploration, PEJU crafts wines for every palette and offers unique tasting and pairing experiences at the estate that highlight each varietal. PEJU celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2023, and more information can be found at peju.com.

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