The Sweeter Side of Life: Prager Winery and Port Works
A family owned and operated business, Prager Winery and Port Works, has been producing world-class fortified wines since 1979. Inspired by passion and driven by family values, hard work and dedication, Prager Winery and Port Works is committed to producing premium Port that pair well with food to create an unforgettable experience.
“Producing world-class port was a hunger of the heart for my husband, 40-years ago,” said Proprietor of Prager Winery and Port Works, Imogene Prager.
An insurance broker by trade, Jim Prager had a deep appreciation for Port wine, which lead to a journey of education, and aspiration. After an impactful visit to the Napa Valley in 1974, Jim and Imogene Prager made a life altering decision to relocate their family of seven children from Southern California to St. Helena. Inspired by a niche outside the typical Napa model, Jim and Imogene’s vision set them apart from the beginning. With a goal to produce the finest port in a valley covered by extraordinary fruit, Jim’s dedication to his new profession in winemaking set the tone for the quality and heart showcased in every bottle.
“Our Dad wanted to make port because he enjoyed it but did not like the really sweet ports. So, he wanted to make a port that would pair well with food,” said Katie Prager-Rooney. “We all have ports with dinner frequently. They really can go with every course of a meal. They are lovely with desserts, but I personally love the white port with a Ceasar salad and my brothers love the red ports with spaghetti dinners.”
Known for its rich and decadent flavor profiles, port wine has commonly been categorized as a dessert wine. Though delicious notes of blue and red fruit, caramel, allspice and chocolate coat the palette, The Prager’s ports are crafted to enhance a meal and be appreciated for their balance, elegance and versatility.
“White port is generally used before dinner and as an aperitif rather than an after dinner beverage which is the traditional style. Because white port is lighter, it pairs very well with sweet and savory dishes and can be enjoyed with hors’ dourves or with the first course of a meal,” said General Manager, Jeff Prager. “Dishes that are caramelized, butternut squash, bisques, pattee or seared seafood work very well with white port. For example, it goes well with seared sea scallops. The white port brings out the caramelized flavor from the dish as well as the actual flavor from the ocean. It’s an amazing combination.” said John Prager.
With a defined style that is all their own, Prager Winery and Port Works offers a selection of dynamic ports varying from the traditional vintage style to white ports to aged tawny’s expanding upon the time-honored Portuguese standard. “We are different. For example, with our white port, we allow it to age longer, which gives it a nutty finish to enhance the caramelization within the wine. This really accentuates the flavor from the food ,”said Jeff Prager.
Committed to crafting ports that pair well with food, the Pragers host several educational events for their Port Club Members and guests run by Mary Prager. “We have an event in October that showcases how port really does go with everything. We pair our ports with cheeses, nuts, soups, and meat to name a few,” said Katie. “We truly want people to understand that Port has its place at the table, it pairs well with food and is lovely on its own.”
With a mantra of, “Don’t be afraid of ports,” The Prager’s have built a legacy in the Napa Valley.
After Jim’s passing in 2017, the family continues to carry on the tradition. “We are family owned and operated,” said Jeff Prager.
Today, the second generation has taken the helm. Under the winemaker Peter Prager, who is the President of the Sweet and Fortified Wine Association, Prager Winery and Port Works continues to produce a diverse selection of premium wines. Together, the Prager men, Jeff, Peter and John and brothers-in-law, Richard and Kevin, provide first-rate hospitality. Always ready to educate and inspire, guests can feel at home as they savor exceptional port wines with the Prager’s.
As their 40th anniversary draws near, the family embraces each moment. Nestled in the heart of St. Helena, lies their hidden gem, overflowing with character and charm. Commemorating 40 years of hard work, and 40 years of love for a business built out of passion, the Prager’s celebrate family, tradition and love for port wine.
Prager Winery & Port Works
1281 Lewelling Lane | St. Helena, CA 94574 | 707-963-7678
Article By: Valerie Owens