Peter Mondavi, Sr., is someone described by the Napa Valley Vintners as a “living legend,” and aptly so: Peter will join the ranks as a member of the centenarian club on Saturday, November 8th, 2014. It’s The Daily Sip’s pleasure and privilege to both honor Peter’s historic legacy on the eve of his 100th birthday, and to feature his answers in this exclusive interview.
Peter’s life history is inextricably linked to the rise of the Napa Valley as one of the world’s premier wine regions. Peter’s parents, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, purchased Charles Krug Winery in 1943. Starting in the 1940’s, Cesare and Rosa’s sons, Peter and the late Robert Mondavi (of Robert Mondavi Winery acclaim), joined their parents in the family business.
Peter’s personal work helped pioneer new technologies in winemaking in the Napa Valley, and Peter himself developed cutting-edge cold fermentation techniques (critical to making modern white wines taste fresh) at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1940s.
When his mother died in 1976, Peter became president of Charles Krug, a role he continues to hold, even though he acknowledges that his sons, Marc and Peter, Jr., “do most of the work today.”
The net effect of Peter Mondavi, Sr.’s life in wine has been nothing short of helping to spur the growth and success of the entire American wine industry. We hope you’ll join us in toasting him on his 100th birthday. You can wish Peter a happy birthday directly at www.facebook.com/charleskrugwinery.
Read on to hear from Peter Mondavi, Sr., himself how the Napa Valley is different now than when his parents arrived, and what his single joy in a life of wine has been.
The Daily Sip (TDS): How is the Napa Valley different now than when you arrived?
Peter Mondavi, Sr. (PM): There’s been a tremendous increase in boutique wineries, and the culinary scene is unbelievable.
TDS: What wine of yours are you personally most proud of and why?
PM: In the early years, I was most proud of our Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. Those wines are still demonstrating how Napa Valley cabernets can age gracefully. Today, there are so many more of our wines to be proud of.
TDS: What is the single biggest joy of a life in wine?