At a young age, Ariana Peju knew that she was destined to work in the wine business. With an affinity for the outdoors and a love of the environment, this remarkable woman has dedicated a lifetime to a career she has inevitably inherited. Some 30 years ago, Ariana’s parents, Tony and Herta, left their home in Los Angeles where they had a very successful nursery and flower shop to pursue the wine business. They moved with their two daughters, Lisa and Ariana, to an outdated vineyard. Today, their 30th anniversary is rapidly approaching and it’s safe to say that the Peju family vineyard has come a long way. “The winery has slowly evolved over the last three years from basically starting to sell grapes. We were growers in the beginning and then [we] started making our own wine and now we make about 30,000 cases of wine and we started out of our garage,” Ariana explained. Eighty-five percent of those 30,000 cases are sold out of the wineries; their tasting room, wine club, phone and Internet and a small percentage is sold in the wholesale market, which is only sold to high-end restaurants.
Every experience at the Peju winery promises to be an extraordinary one.
“My dad always said that I wanted to come to Napa Valley so that I could be on a tractor,” Ariana joked. But since coming on board in 2006, Ariana has done far more than that. She has brought a number of environmental initiatives to the forefront of the business in an effort to make the winery more environmentally friendly; said initiatives include “Harvesting the Sun,” which was a project in which 720 solar panels were installed over 10,000-square-feet of the winery roof that ended up supporting nearly 340% of Peju winery’s energy. Additionally, she has contributed to the winery’s growing success. Her love and work ethic come from growing up on the vineyard and knowing what it takes day in and day out to make things work. Ariana worked on the tractor with her father, drove the forklift and picked grapes, all of which have contributed to her ability to assist in running the winery effectively and efficiently.
Being the next generation, Ariana and her sister Lisa plan to run the winery so that they can continue to pass it down from generation to generation. Every experience at the Peju winery promises to be an extraordinary one. “We want to make a high quality product because we are a family business, we are not about quantity. It’s about what’s actually in the bottle and being able to have lifelong customers because without them there’s nothing for us. We’ve always said that. We live and die by the customer. It’s whatever they want and we will do it,” Ariana said. More than just an ordinary vineyard, the Peju Winery not only hosts regular wine tastings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but it has art galleries and stunning architectural features, a kitchen that hosts culinary classes and a garden where one can come see Tony Pejul and his wife Herta tending to the trees and plants.
Ariana’s lifelong commitment to her family’s business is the core of its success today. Here, Adriana shares her day-to-day routine: a long list of responsibilities that she performs proudly in an effort to carry out the Peju family vision.
MORNING: I come into work early when it’s quiet, get some things done in my office, and then I usually go make my rounds saying good morning to everybody. I really just check on things, but it all depends on the morning. I am typically either out at the vineyard or I’m in the office. I’d like to be out on the vineyard more often. I’m just doing the day-to-day operations though, so a lot of it is office time.
AFTERNOON: I try to have all of my meetings and things in the mornings, so in the afternoons I am able to catch up on my work from meetings I may have had before. I get to attend local events when I need to. Networking and being out in the community or going to wine tastings and pourings for instance, but I try to keep my afternoons free because I’m more of a morning person anyway. I get more things done in the morning.
EVENINGS: I try to lighten it up at night. I’m a newly wed, [I was married] about a year and a half ago, so my husband and I really like to work out and go to the gym. That’s kind of my zen time to work off the day. Then I go home, cook dinner, enjoy the summertime and walk the dog. I try to be more laid back unless I’m planning events, but the majority of the time I try to take it easy.