PlumpJack Winery

John Conover’s winery background encompasses sales, marketing and management positions with well-respected, super-premium and ultra-premium California wine producers, including Grgich Hills Cellar (Rutherford), Monticello Cellars (Napa), Lockwood Vineyard (Monterey County) and currently PlumpJack winery (Oakville) and the new CADE winery (Howell Mountain).

Conover joined PlumpJack as general manager in January 1999 to oversee the daily operations of the estate winery and vineyard, provide strategic direction for the newly-established property, steadily increase production from 1,000 cases to 10,000 cases annually and create the image, awareness and distribution channels that would ultimately support that level of production.

Conover is also a partner in CADE, a new estate winery being constructed on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley by the PlumpJack group. Under Conover's direction, CADE released its first white wine, the CADE Sauvignon Blanc 2005, in 2006, and its first red wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Cuvee 2005, in 2007. Two more Cabernet Sauvignons are in the works, both from Howell Mountain-grown grapes, including the CADE Estate wine grown on 21 organically farmed acres planted on steep slopes in front of the new LEED-certifed winery and extensive barrel-aging caves.

PlumpJack Winery released its first vintage in 1997. The winery currently produces several varietals under the talented direction of winemaker Anthony Biagi and consulting winemaker Nils Venge. The winery’s focus remains its Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon with two limited offerings: PlumpJack Estate and PlumpJack Reserve.

Probably the most visible of Conover’s projects for PlumpJack to date has been the development and June 2000 release of the U.S. wine industry’s first ever bottling of an ultra-premium, luxury wine in a screw cap bottle. “We undertook the project with great enthusiasm,” says Conover. “We did not expect, however, the wonderful level of acceptance among high-end consumers and collectors and the overwhelmingly positive support of our colleagues in the winemaking community. From packaging to bottling to the quality of the wine a year later, the whole project has been both interesting and gratifying. I have been particularly pleased to have the on-going participation of U.C. Davis.”

In issue No. 168 of The Wine Advocate newsletter, Robert M. Parker, Jr., rated the 2004 Plumpjack Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 96 points, calling it "voluptuous" and "multidimensional." Previous Parker raves included 94 points for the 2002 PlumpJack Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 96 points for the 2002 PlumpJack Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2004 PlumpJack Winery’s 2001 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was named “Number One Wine in the World” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

San Francisco Philanthropist Gordon Getty and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, both avid wine collectors and enthusiasts, own PlumpJack winery and have set high standards for the label since its inception. “It’s exciting for me to be part of an organization with such dedication to quality, both in the vineyards and in the winery,” says Conover. “Certainly, the history of this property – formerly Villa Mt. Eden – for producing world-class fruit is well-known, and Tony and Nils offer incredible winemaking talent. Further, the energy and vision offered by the partners makes this venture a very exciting one.”






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