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Charles Krug Winery's Peter Mondavi Sr. passes away at 101 / Peter Mondavi Sr., a Napa Valley innovator who steered his family’s Charles Krug Winery through more than a half-century of revolutionary change in the industry, died on Feb. 20 at his St. Helena home on the Charles Krug estate surrounded by his family. He was 101.

 

A private service for family will be held at the St. Helena Catholic Church.

Mondavi began his career in wine when Napa Valley was chiefly known for inexpensive jug wine, or “vin ordinaire,” as he would refer to it. In 1943, his parents purchased Charles Krug Winery, which even then enjoyed a long pedigree. Prussian emigrant Charles Krug founded his eponymous winery in 1861, making it the oldest operating winery in the Napa Valley today. Mondavi worked the property with his family and eventually assumed the role of president and CEO upon his mother’s death in 1976.

Known for introducing a number of significant advancements to California winemaking, Mondavi earned legendary status among Napa Valley vintners. As a student, he studied the effects of cold fermentation on white and rosé wines, which were then being fermented at higher temperatures and losing their distinct characteristics through oxidation. His revolutionary research and practical methods resulted in the production of exceptionally crisp, fruity white wines.

A winemaker above all else, Mondavi was quoted in the Wine Spectator speaking to his joy, which was “to linger in the laboratory, testing and experimenting.” A recent review in sommelier Kelli White’s tome, Napa Valley Then & Now, refers to his 1959 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon as: “Simply stunning, this impossibly youthful wine is incredibly vibrant and powerful.”

To advance his wine knowledge and winemaking prowess, Mondavi toured the wine regions of Europe with fellow vintners. Under Mondavi’s tutelage in 1963, Charles Krug was the first winery in Napa Valley to import French oak barrels for ageing, a common practice among today’s winemakers. In addition, he was among the pioneering vintners who planted pinot noir and chardonnay where dairy cows had previously dominated in the Carneros region of the valley.

Mondavi was proud of his insight and drive to amass prime land parcels for vineyard production. He acquired more than 800 acres of premium Napa Valley land in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. This land-buying spree established the foundation for the winery’s estate-driven wines.

Fiercely determined to keep the winery family owned in the midst of corporate buyouts happening up and down Napa Valley, Mondavi led an effort to preserve the family’s estate vineyards. During a nine-year period ended in 2010, Mondavi invested $22 million in replanting 400 prime acres of vineyards with primarily red Bordeaux varietals, instituting sustainable farming practices and implementing state-of-the-art winemaking equipment in the process.

Mondavi invested a lifetime in building, growing and protecting his family’s business. Asked late in life to note his proudest accomplishment, he replied, “Never losing control of our family winery. If I could, I would tell my father: I did the best I could during the difficult years. I was determined and we held on.”

 

In 2011, still spry at age 96, he hosted a Tasting on the Lawn to commemorate the winery’s 150th anniversary, telling the gathered crowd with a twinkle in his blue eyes, “I tell my sons this gives us a good job.” Mondavi officially retired in 2015 but he was a fixture at the winery years after he turned over the day-to-day operations to his sons, regularly climbing two flights of stairs to his office to settle in to work. When asked by a group of visiting Nike executives, he credited his stamina to “living a good life and drinking great wine.”

Mondavi left an indelible impression on the California wine industry, but also on the legacy that passes to the next generations of winemakers within his family. He took steps to preserve the history of Charles Krug, overseeing the restoration of two landmark buildings – the 1872 Redwood Cellar and the 1881 Carriage House – that are now registered on the National Registry of Historic Places and considered California historical landmarks. His efforts were recognized with the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award in 2010.

The family business, C. Mondavi & Family, founded by and named after patriarch Cesare Mondavi, continues to thrive and includes third and fourth generations of the family. Today, Mondavi’s sons, Marc and Peter Jr., lead the vision of the family winery with his grandchildren in the wings.

 

Mondavi was born in Virginia, Minn., on Nov. 8, 1914, to Cesare and Rosa Grassi Mondavi, natives of Sassoferrato in the Marche region of Italy. He was the youngest of four children, and his parents originated from very modest means and had no winemaking lineage. As characteristically hardworking immigrants, Rosa ran a boarding house for Italian iron miners while Cesare, after working briefly in the iron mines, opened a saloon and parlayed it into a grocery store at the onset of Prohibition. Prodded by the local Italian community, Cesare became a wine-grape buyer, traveling to California to purchase fruit for his home-winemaking neighbors in Minnesota. The burgeoning success of his wine-grape shipping business brought the family to Lodi, Calif., in 1922. In a paradoxical way, Prohibition introduced the family to the beginnings of winemaking.

Mondavi got his start as a boy nailing boxes for his father’s wine-grape shipping business. He went on to earn a degree in economics from Stanford University in 1938, but was drawn to winemaking, performing research in oenology at the University of California, Berkeley. World War II interrupted his career, and he served in the military overseas, returning in 1946. Four years later he married his beloved Blanche Hurtzig, a union that lasted until her death in 2010.

Mondavi’s influence on the Napa Valley wine industry has been recognized and honored for decades. In 1986, the Napa Valley Vintners Association named him one of “Twelve Living Legends in the Napa Valley,” and he was the last survivor of that group.

In 2002, he graced the cover of the Wine Spectator as one of the “Napa Mavericks” who were the wine region’s trailblazers.

In 2009, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Napa Valley vintners from the California State Fair.

In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown honored him, along with the legacy of the Charles Krug Winery, with a proclamation for his contributions to the wine industry. Congress acknowledged him and the winery on his 97th birthday in the Congressional Record. His lifetime achievements were recognized in 2012 when he was inducted into the St. Helena-based Culinary Institute of America Vintners Hall of Fame for his industry contributions in cold fermentation and sterile filtration. “I share this award with my parents,” a characteristically modest Mondavi said at that time.

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History

 

Now under the guidance of Peter Mondavi Sr., the Charles Krug Winery honors its roots while forging ahead to the future. From the Wild West to the twenty-first century, relatively crude beginnings gave way to the finest form of winemaking.

Founded in 1861 by Charles Krug, the 27-year old Prussian immigrant came to America with little besides willpower and a willingness to work hard to build the cornerstone of the first winery in the Napa Valley. He became the major local winery figure of his era, greatly influencing Napa Valley's development as a world-renown wine producing region.

His leadership was said to be inspirational and his ideas innovative. Charles Krug introduced the cider press for winemaking, the first of which is still on display at the winery. He carefully selected rootstocks, varietals and vineyard sites - a novel concept in late 19th century America. 

After his death in 1892, James Moffitt held the winery in proprietorship through Prohibition. By 1943, he found a pioneering spirit in Cesare Mondavi, an Italian immigrant with a passion for wine, and sold the winery to his family for $75,000.


Charles Krug


At 60 years old, Cesare Mondavi spearheaded a dramatic renaissance in the decade that followed. Wine historian Charles Sullivan writes in his book, Napa Wine, “By the early 1950s it was irrefutable that the Valley's Big Four had been augmented by one - the Charles Krug Winery”.

Cesare died in 1959 leaving Rosa as President with sons Robert as General Manager and Peter as Vice President. In 1966, Robert moved south to Oakville and began construction of his own winery. Upon Rosa's death in 1976, Peter became President of the winery. 

Peter's industry innovations from his studies at Stanford and Berkeley included revolutionary research on cold fermentation, enabling the production of exceptionally crisp, fruity white wines. His pioneering efforts to plant vineyards in the Carneros region with chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, cold sterile filtration techniques and aging wine in small French oak barrels contributed to his being named one of the twelve “Living Legends” in 1999 by the Napa Valley Vintners Association.

Above all else, Charles Krug Winery is a family winery. Peter Sr. and his sons Marc and Peter Jr. continue their dedication to producing the finest Bordeaux style wines in the Napa Valley. To achieve this, they initiated a nine-year, $22 million investment program completed in 2010. Over 400 of the winery's 850 prime acres in Napa Valley have been re-planted and state-of-the-art winemaking equipment is now in use.

 

 











 

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Vineyards

Vineyards: The Peter Mondavi Sr. family owns and farms 850 acres of prime Napa Valley vineyard land. Estate vineyards are located in the St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Yountville and Carneros sub-appellations.

Production: 85,000 cases Wines:

Napa Valley Wines: St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros Chardonnay, Carneros Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Merlot, Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon

Family Reserve Napa Valley Wines: Family Reserve Generations Estate Bottled Bordeaux-style Red Blend, Vintage Selection Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon

Limited Release Napa Valley Wines: Vineyard Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Howell Mountain Cold Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, X Clones Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena Zinfandel, Zinfandel Port

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Winemaking

Stacy Clark, Winemaker

Stacy Clark came on board as our winemaker in April 2011, and we are thrilled to have her as an integral member of the Charles Krug Winery team. Her first goal was to craft some exceptional blends for the 2009 and 2010 vintages. Now bottling is complete for all these wines and the bottle aging has begun. We will really enjoy and appreciate Stacy's contribution when these wines are released!


Here at the winery, with Stacy at the helm, we fuse modern winemaking techniques with traditional French methods to craft ultra-premium wines. Our focus is on Bordeaux style wines brimming with great fruit, amazing balance and food friendly compatibility. No wonder the critics are now singing our praises. Combined with the family's dedication to fine wine and sustainable farming practices, we see a bright future at the Charles Krug Winery; just taste our wines and we’re sure you’ll agree.

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Inside information

1858: Charles Krug introduced the cider press as a more efficient method of winemaking

 

1861: Charles Krug established his eponymous winery in the Napa Valley

 

1870s: Charles Krug produced some of California's first varietal-labeled wines

 

1875: Charles Krug founded the St. Helena Viticultural Association

 

1879: Charles Krug formed the Napa and Sonoma Wine Company with other producers to improve the quality of wine shipped to the East Coast

 

1880s: Charles Krug was the Napa District Representative to the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners, advocating vertical wire trellising and unconventional 3.5' x 14' vine spacing

 

1892: Death of Charles Krug 1906: Cesare Mondavi, future owner of Charles Krug Winery, emigrates from Italy to the United States

 

1908: Cesare Mondavi returns to Italy to marry Rosa Grassi in Sassoferrato, Italy and returns to the United States in December the same year

 

1943: Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley

 

1944: Research continues with the use of cold sterile filtration for off-dry white wines pioneered by Peter Mondavi Sr. from his studies at the University of California, Berkeley

 

1947: Brothers Robert Mondavi and Peter Mondavi Sr. were among the founding members of the Napa Valley Technical Group, formed to share knowledge and information with vintner members. Charles Krug Winery was among the first California wineries to promote vintage-dated varietal wines

 

1949: At Charles Krug Winery, the Mondavi Family produced California's first consumer newsletter, Bottles & Bins

 

1951: The Mondavi Family introduced Tastings on the Lawn in 1951, an annual end of summer event with wine, food and music on the Great Lawn

 

1956: Charles Krug Winery declared California State Park Historic Landmark

 

1959: Upon the death of her husband, Cesare, Rosa Mondavi becomes President of Charles Krug Winery

 

1963: The winery promoted the introduction of French oak barrels to Napa Valley

 

1965: Robert Mondavi leaves Charles Krug Winery to start his own eponymous winery in Oakville 

 

1974: Charles Krug Winery listed on the National Register of Historic Places

 

1976: Upon the death of his mother, Rosa, Peter Mondavi Sr. becomes President of Charles Krug Winery

 

1988: Peter Mondavi Sr. participates in the Wine Spectator California Wine Men Oral History Series in cooperation with the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley

 

1995: Peter Mondavi Sr. was honored by the Napa Valley Vintners Association as one of 12 Living Legends of the Napa Valley

 

1999: The Peter Mondavi Sr. family undertakes a massive replanting project to focus more on red Bordeaux varietals. Peter Mondavi Jr. oversees extensive Bordeaux research project

 

2007: Charles Krug is posthumously inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame for his contributions to the early development of the wine industry

 

2008: $25.6 million dollar vineyard improvement program completed, resulting in 74% of family-owned vineyards planted to red Bordeaux varietals

 

2009: Peter Mondavi Sr. receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the California State Fair

 

2009: The Peter Mondavi Sr. family is awarded the California Preservation Foundation Preservation Design Award for the restoration of the Charles Krug Winery Redwood Cellar and Carriage House

 

2009: The Peter Mondavi Sr. family is awarded the Napa County Landmark Award of Merit for the restoration of the Charles Krug Winery Redwood Cellar and Carriage House

 

2010: Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for the restoration and seismic retrofit of the Redwood Cellar and Carriage House

 

2012: Peter Mondavi Sr. is inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame for his watershed contribution to the wine industry with his work on cold fermentation and sterile filtration

 

2013: Begun in 2012, famed architect Howard Backen complete the historic renovation of the Redwood Cellar (the winery building constructed by Charles Krug in 1874). The new tasting room and visitor center opened in November, 2013

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5 different wines with 31 vintages

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Krug Winery . In a tasting of  16 wines 

I had the great pleasure to attend one of the greatest wine dinners of my life. The topic was 1961 Bordeaux- for me the most complete vintage ever. To the 25 best wines of that vintage were 5 other wines served blind - all from the sixties. The dinner was finished with the most impressive Port I ever had - the brilliant 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional.



I rarely award 100 points to a wine but here I did it for Ausone, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, Margaux, Trotanoy, Lafleur, La Mission Haut Brion, 1968 Martha's Vineyard, 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle and 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional. Thank you Robert for an unbelievable evening with the nicest of guests, a fantastic dinner at the marvelous Hotel Königshof in Munich. The wine service was, as always, impeccable led by the star sommelier Stephane Thuriot.

9m 13d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Krug Winery . In a tasting of  15 wines 

A perfect Grange 1971 -100Points. 


It's not the first time the 1971 Grange has bettered the French at their own game. In 1979, Penfolds caused a sensation in France when the upstart Australian winery topped the Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad in Paris. The 1971 Grange beat some of the best Rhone wines ever made.



The judging panel contemplates the best wines the 1970s had to offer. 
"If you had to point to a wine which fulfilled the ambitions of Grange it would have to be the 1971," Schubert remarked in 1993, just months before he passed away.


According to the tasting notes, the 1971 Grange is "medium deep brick red" and "an immensely complex and mature wine with lifted smoked meat, dark chocolate, mocha and liquorice aromas".


The 1971 Grange is a blend of 87 per cent shiraz and 13 per cent cabernet sauvignon grapes, which were sourced from the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, and Magill Estate in Adelaide, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. The wine has an unusually low alcohol of around 12.3 per cent, which may have helped contribute to its incredible longevity.


 


 

9m 21d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Krug Winery . In a tasting of  29 wines 

The tasting of the year - Vintage 1961 - 11 wines got full 100 points!

9m 25d ago

 Charles Krug Winery  has news

Charles Krug Winery's Peter Mondavi Sr. passes away at 101 / Peter Mondavi Sr., a Napa Vall  more ...

1y 7m ago

 Rytis Jurkenas / Champagne Expert, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Krug Winery . In a tasting of  11 wines 

““Penfolds Grange 1971 - 98 points / Good looking normal size bottle, is in a perfect condition and has by the neck level. Colour is ruby red, and looking bright, dark and deep. On the nose it is intense, youthful, refined, fresh and generous. The taste is rich, focused, vigor, refined, with silky tannins, full-bodied, with perfectly balanced, concentrated and complex structure. The finish is long, round, flavorful, pure and spicy. This wine is intelligent, transparent and impressive. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 10-15 years and decant at least 2h before tasting.””

1y 9m ago

 Cashile Pienaar / Sommelier, Pro (South Africa)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Krug Winery . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“"The 2009 Proprietary Blend Harlan Estate is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Cloves, dark plums, cherries, smoke and graphite add richness and resonance to this powerful, incisive wine. Juicy and exuberant, the 2009 has always had a certain raciness that is impossible to resist. Layers of fruit continue to build to the enveloping, sensual finish. Readers will have a hard time keeping their hands off this hugely delicious wine. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2034." Antonio Galloni”

1y 10m ago

 Charles Krug Winery  has news

Charles Krug Winery's Peter Mondavi Sr. passes away at 101 / Peter Mondavi Sr., a Napa Vall  more ...

2y 1m ago

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