Bruce Allen is providing periodic guest blog entries while the Cork Board team continues to adjust to life with a newborn.
When I first visited the Napa Valley in 2004, I was fairly ignorant about much of the history of the Valley. I knew many of the big names, but I didn’t know much beyond that.
For instance, I had no idea that the Charles Krug Winery is owned by Robert Mondavi’s brother Peter and his family. (I can’t believe I’m admitting that.) That was one of the facts I learned on that initial visit and I wanted to learn more about the history of the winery and of course about the family. So, on my third visit, in 2005, I made sure the Krug Winery was one of my stops. The place didn’t seem like much when compared to some of the other wineries we had visited in the region. The tasting room was small and modest, and the grounds were not the carefully manicured showpiece that you see all around the valley. The wine was pretty good though. I bought a few bottles from there, including a Zinfandel Reserve Port, (Lot X) which I have yet to open. I have stopped in a couple of other times since then, most recently in June of this year. On that occasion, I noticed some construction going on in the large barn which is to the rear right of the tasting room. I was curious about what might be going on but the tasting room was pretty busy so I didn’t get a change to ask about the work.
This fall, reading “The House of Mondavi” gave me some more history of the winery and the things that have happened there since the 1940′s. The book doesn’t really paint the Peter Mondavi side in a very positive light, (though no one in the book comes off unscathed) as the book points out that not a lot of money was really sunk into the winery itself over the years.
I was delighted then, this week to read in Wine Business that the family has invested nearly $35 million into the winery, redoing the vineyards and the facilities (including the building I saw being worked on in June) and putting the winery back into a position to compete with the big boys of the valley. This is welcome news for those like myself who want to see historic wineries like Krug kept updated and healthy. 93-year-old Peter Mondavi is still in his office each day, and even has some nice things to say about his brother Robert in the article.