Napa Valley: Charles Krug Winery – 150 years in the making

The last of my Mondavi visits this trip to the Napa Valley was to Charles Krug Wineryin St. Helena. There are still more Mondavi family wineries to visit next time though…I had not realized how excited I was to visit Charles Krug Winery until we were driving down the long, olive tree lined driveway to the tasting room. This winery is the first and oldest winery in the Napa Valley, the Mondavi family purchased it in 1943. In fact, this past September marks the 150th anniversary for the winery. It’s history is colorful and really helped shape the Napa Valley, hence my excitement.
With 850 acres under the family ownership in the Napa Valley, the Peter Mondavi family is one of the largest  and oldest family owned vineyard landholders in the area. The winery produces Charles Krug – Peter Mondavi Family label and the more mass produced CK Mondavi.

When we first entered the tasting room / gift shop we were greeted by an older gentleman who gave us a bit of background about the winery, all of which we already knew. Although, the one key point he mentioned that excited me was that were were standing in the exact spot Peter Mondavi Sr. (the owner of Charles Krug) and his brother Robert Mondavi had the fight that changed the course for the Mondavi family. Robert left and began the Robert Mondavi Winery while Peter took over the family winery, Charles Krug Winery. It was exciting for me…
For the tasting you can choose from two flights – the Normal (some whites and reds) and their Reserve (all reds). We chose to stick with the reserves and were pleased with the choice. Their reserve wines are produced in smaller quantities so you can’t purchase them everywhere, thus they were new to me. My favorite, the 2006 Charles Krug – Peter Mondavi Family Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. It has won several awards as of late. No wonder, it’s amazing! There were only 16,000 cases made… The 2006 Limited Release Red Wine – Voltz Vineyard came in a near second. This vintage draws on the third year of harvest since the family began replanting efforts 1999. (The winery has invested millions of dollars into their vineyards recently, including replanting.)
Peter Mondavi Sr. who is 96 years old still lives in the family house on the property. He still works at the winery (daily) but his two sons, Marc and Peter, Jr., are guiding the family business these days. 
I had really wanted to see the family house before we left, mainly because of all the stories I had read, which took place at the house. It’s not open to the public but our driver tried to sneak around the property to give us our own little private tour. But alas, we were unable to make our way by car. I was disappointed but can you imagine getting caught by a member of the family. Not cool…  

If you’re visiting the Napa Vally in August or September, check out Krug’s ‘Tastings on the Lawn’, two popular social gatherings of wine lovers held annually since 1951.

2 Comments

  • Loved your post about the visit to the Krug estate. But the “only 16,000 cases were produced” part made me pause for a second. Next time you are heading to Napa you MUST get in touch with Frank Melis at Golden Gate Wine Cellars. He will show you some true limited production wines. Frank is the uncontested expert when it comes to small-run California wineries. Many of the wines I discover thanks to him are in runs of 200-1000 cases and they blow the socks off of anything the Mondavi brothers can produce.

    • Thanks for the note. Yes, we’ll for sure check then out when we’re back out there. Thanks for the tip!

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