Peter Mondavi Sr., 96, still oversees Charles Krug Winery operations.
Peter Mondavi Sr. was a World War II recruit when his parents, Cesare and Rosa, bought the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, Calif. The Napa Valley’s first winery—since rechristened Charles Krug–Peter Mondavi Family Winery—turns 150 this year. (800) 682-5784, charleskrug.com.
Q How has winemaking changed since your family acquired Krug in 1943?
A We used 6,000- to 9,000-gallon redwood tanks, brass fittings, and glass transfer lines. We didn’t have refrigeration. To cool the fermenting wines, we’d throw blocks of ice in a coolingtower. Today, almost everything is stainless steel.
Q Wine prices back then?
A We recently found a 1949 wine list from Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Every bottle, including several from Charles Krug, cost just $2.
Q What’s new at Krug?
A We just started barrel tastings for groups of eight on Fridays and Saturdays. For this year’s Tastings on the Lawn—our 60th, on September 10—we’ll likely dig into my personal library for a rare wine. In 2010, we opened a 1974 cabernet.
Q What’s the best wine grape?
A Cabernet sauvignon is king. The flavors are complex and the wine develops different characters as it ages. Our 1957 vintage is a real winner—that was 100 percent cabernet. There’s one bottle of the 1944 left in the wine library.
Q You still drink wine?
A A glass a day. I can’t think of any better beverage for meals.
Photography by Robert Holmes
This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.