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A Storied Destiny

After Cesare died in 1959, his wife Rosa became president of the corporation. By this time her sons, Robert and Peter had been working together at Charles Krug for many years. Yet their differences of opinion over how the winery should be run culminated in a fistfight. This incident served as the final blow for any future the two had of continuing to work together.

Afterwards Peter ran Krug without Robert. And Robert built Robert Mondavi Winery. By 2006, when I first met both Robert and Peter, sitting side by side at Premiere Napa Valley, Robert had sold Robert Mondavi, Corporation, and time had healed many wounds.

Today Peter Mondavi, Jr. is responsible for day-to-day operations at Charles Krug, including winemaking and overseeing the acreage at the Napa Valley estate, while directing sales and marketing. As co-proprietor, he works closely with his father and brother, Marc. And during a recent trip to Napa Valley, I had dinner with Peter, Jr. “A couple of years after my grandmother died, we moved to the winery,” Peter, Jr. recalls. Yet like many who grow up in wine country, Peter, Jr. had to leave it and come back to fully appreciate it. Peter, Jr. followed in his father's footsteps by attending Sanford University, where he earned a BS and an MS in Engineering and went back ten years later to earn an MBA.

Due to the recent best seller, The House of Mondavi, people are more familiar with the Mondavi family history than ever before. I tell Peter that I have not read the book, and ask him if I should. “Not unless you have a burning desire to do so. Although I think the book does a pretty good job of documenting the progression of facts, much of what is in the book was already known. This is just the first time it is all found together in one place,” he says. “The book also takes some things out of context to mold some family members with the portrayal of their personality traits being a bit extreme. And it draws the conclusion that Robert was forced to sell his winery due to his philanthropy. I believe he was trying to take care of the shareholders. But perhaps the author may be more aware of the Robert Mondavi Winery than me.” Yet Peter, Jr. also believes the book will help distinguish between the Peter Mondavi family and the Robert Mondavi family in relationship to Charles Krug.

A visit to Charles Krug the following day shows the restoration process of its historic landmark buildings—the Redwood Cellar and the Carriage House—is well underway. And the family's prime Napa Valley vineyards are currently being converted to organic and sustainable viticulture practices.

Charles Krug's outstanding portfolio includes Napa Valley and Family Reserve. Among the Napa Valley wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. And the Family Reserve Wines include Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon and Family Reserve Generations—a beautiful meritage blend. Charles Krug wines are available at Bonefish Grill, Fresh Market, Icon Restaurant and Bar, Lou's Pub, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Mountain Brook Country Club, Overton and Vine, Shoal Creek Country Club, Vintage Wine Shoppe, Western in Mountain Brook, Whole Foods. See “Pairings” for the wines that we paired with our dinner, tasting notes and Peter, Jr.'s recommendations for Thanksgiving pairings.

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