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Charles Krug was an imprisoned revolutionary, an entrepreneur, and a wine visionary. Peter Mondavi and family are entrepreneurs and wine innovators, but never imprisoned revolutionaries (that we know of!). Together, they trace the entire timeline for wine in Napa Valley. Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley, was founded by a 24-year-old revolutionary who was part of a coup to overthrow the German Parliament. He was thrown into prison, to be freed only in a second revolution attempt nine months later. Around him, some of Europe’s greatest cities--Prague, Paris and Berlin—were in political and financial turmoil. Meanwhile, from the California Gold Rush came stories of riches and glory and the promise of unimaginable wealth. It didn’t take Krug long to jump on a ship to the New World. Charles was educated, opinionated and entrepreneurial, founding Napa Valley’s first winery in 1881. He was the first major vintner to apply scientific methods and European techniques to winemaking here. He also brought varietal diversity to Napa Valley, too, rejecting the prevalent Mission grape in favor of European varieties. Krug not only set the stage, he built the stage for the Napa Valley wine business. Fast forward around 30 years. Around the time of Prohibition, another immigrant-entrepreneur, this one from Italy, started a grocery business in Minnesota. To supply his customers’ home wine-making endeavors, Cesare Mondavi came on an innovative solution: he began trips to California to buy Zinfandel grapes to ship home. Meanwhile, in Napa Valley, Charles Krug’s historic winery was falling apart. With his grape business booming, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved their young family to California and bought Krug’s languishing legacy in 1943. When Cesare died in 1959, Rosa and their sons Peter Jr. and Robert operated Charles Krug until 1966, when Robert moved a few miles south to Oakville to set up his own winery. Peter was named president of Charles Krug, a position he still holds, coming into the winery nearly every day. That certainly speaks to the power of red wine: Peter Mondavi Sr. is 94. The Peter Mondavi Family history at Charles Krug Winery is the story of 60 years of innovation. After graduating from Stanford University, Peter pursued wine studies at U.C. Berkeley, where he experimented extensively with cold fermentation techniques. Back at the family winery, he pioneered those processes-- the first winemaker in California to do so. The Mondavis published the first winery newsletter in California (Bottles & Bins, 1949) and, in 1953, Life Magazine declared that Charles Krug produced the “best California white wine” of the year. The winery’s Tastings on the Lawn, now in their 57th year, are believed to be the earliest public wine tastings of their kind and went on to inspire a myriad of other tasting events. In 1963, Charles Krug was the first Napa Valley winery to import French oak barrels to age wine and was among the first to vintage-date varietal wines. Today, a monumental renovation project at Charles Krug has brought the birthplace of Napa Valley wine to the future. Having extensively replanted the family vineyards with a focus on noble red Bordeaux varietals, Peter Sr. and his sons, Marc and Peter Jr. are now practicing sustainable viticulture on their 850 prime Napa Valley acres. They have also restored two landmark structures, Charles Krug’s original Redwood Cellar and Carriage House, honoring their history as the birthplace of Napa’s wine business. They’re determined that their winery will remain family-owned and focused on quality, and to steward the land while preserving the winery's historical legacy. Says Marc: “These are the values our father and grandfather instilled in us. We are investing in the future of this family, this winery, and this remarkable place.”

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