Any Windows user knows the green of California, though they may not be aware of it. The famous background picture ‘Bliss’ depicts those regions from 1996. Go to the same location now and you’ll see rows of grapevines jutting out on wooden sticks bearing the precious purple crop. The death of Peter Mondavi on Saturday at age 101, can mark an end to one generation of winegrowers and the birth of another, as his children take over the family business – the more than a century old Charles Krug Winery. We pay our respects to the Mondavi Brothers, Peter and Robert (who died back in 2008), and their contributions to the wine industry in Napa Valley.
Taking a trip into the valley, you’ll come across the sign reading “Welcome to this world famous wine growing region” with the little addition at the side “…and the wine is bottled poetry”. Charles Krug, an immigrant from Prussia, established his winery way back in 1861 where it became a cornerstone in the Napa wine industry. Further on, Cesare Mondavi, the father of the Mondavi Brothers, bought over the winery in 1943 for $75,000 and the industry was pushed further with the pioneering spirit of his two sons. The family had been a fruit packing business before, and as boys, both had jobs nailing grape crates shut.
In 1965, the two brothers feuded over the direction of the Krug Winery. Robert Mondavi had larger and more ambitious designs. He went on to create his own winery and spearheaded the industry’s further growth as an innovator. Peter was more conservative and stuck with taking care of the family business, especially after his mother died in 1976. This feud ended in 2005 when the brothers got together to make a barrel of wine for the annual Auction Napa Valley.
More interested in the technical side of things, though never buying into the revolutionary vision of his famous brother, Peter developed a technique of cold-fermentation that was helpful in the production of crisp, fruity wines. He also began importing French oak barrels for aging wines.
Peter Mondavi admitted that he thought his chief accomplishment was keeping the Charles Krug Winery in the family. Today the business is run by his sons – Marc and Peter Jr.
This story was written in-house, with background and an image supplied by the AFP.