Napa Valley is home to so many distinguished wineries and venerable winemakers that few can remember the winery that started it all. That honor belongs to the Charles Krug Winery, established in 1861 as the very first winery in Napa Valley. The winery is being recognized on its 150th anniversary in two ways. First, a celebration will be held on September 10th during the annual Tastings on the Lawn event at the winery, and second, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has proclaimed the day “Charles Krug Winery Day”.
Charles Krug Winery has been in the Peter Mondavi family for nearly 70 of its 150 years, and Peter Mondavi Sr., 96, will receive the governor’s proclamation at the Tastings on the Lawn event to be held in the shade of heritage oaks thought to have been planted by Charles Krug himself. Mondavi is being honored for the innovations he has brought to the wine industry since he came to the winery in 1943. His son, Peter Mondavi, Jr. puts the time period in perspective: “1861 was the year President Lincoln was inaugurated, and the year the Civil War began.”
An unusual contest has been launched for the anniversary. Peter Mondavi Sr. is searching for the oldest Charles Krug Winery bottle in existence, empty or full. If you think you have a potential winner, submit an entry to [email protected] or Facebook with a description and photo by December 31, 2011.Wines made in the early days of the winery would have likely included claret, sherry, Madeira, sweet tokay and riesling, the latter a very popular wine with many of the German immigrant-winemakers in Napa Valley in the late 1800s. There are many old bottles surfacing on the Charles Krug Winery Facebook page, some as old as 1947, currently the frontrunner.
Tastings on the Lawn activities:
Visitors will enjoy tastings of all Charles Krug’s current releases, from sauvignon blanc to cabernet sauvignon, including the winery’s Limited Release and Family Reserve wines, paired with a moveable feast. Food from Bottega, Backstreet Kitchen, Brassica and Knickerbockers’ Catering will be featured.
In addition to the chefs’ pairings mentioned above, members of the fourth generation of the Peter Mondavi Family will share what they are calling “easy everyday pairings” — Charles Krug wines served with fun, casual foods like pizza from the wood-fired oven, grilled burgers, tacos and even popcorn — to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an acclaimed chef to enjoy wine with food.
Historical touches include the dramatic, as actors portraying Charles Krug and his wife Carolina Bale Krug will stroll the Great Lawn in period costume, presenting vignettes from their lives 150 years ago. Also on display will be Charles Krug’s antique basket press, originally used for cider, which he used for his historic first grape pressing.
All attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy wine tasting directly from the barrels and meet members of the Peter Mondavi Family, who will be on hand for photos and to sign bottles for visitors. In addition, there will be special pourings from magnums of Charles Krug’s 150th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon, and a rare tasting of older wines from the estate’s cellar (additional fee applies).
Live music on the main stage will provide a backdrop for all of the festivities, featuring Steely Scam a popular Steely Dan tribute band.
See related article: Peter Mondavi celebrates 150th anniversary of Charles Krug Winery
Charles Krug Winery
2800 Main Street
St. Helena, CA
Tasting on the Lawn
September 10, 2011, 2 to 5 p.m
Tickets are available online ($40) at www.charleskrug.com
Admission for Wine Club members is complimentary
To reach Charles Krug Winery from San Francisco by automobile (about 1.5 hours, depending on traffic)
- Take the Bay Bridge and head east on Hwy 80
- Take Hwy 37 west
- Take Napa/Sonoma Blvd exit
- Turn right on Hwy 29 north
- Continue on Hwy 128
- Arrive at 2800 Main St, St Helena