Napa ‘legend’ Peter Mondavi Sr dies aged 101

22nd February, 2016 by Lauren Eads

Peter Mondavi Sr, who for more than half a century steered his family’s Charles Krug Winery in Napa, has died at the age of 101.

Peter_Sr_2005_SacBee_1_(002)

Peter Mondavi, brother of the late Robert Mondavi, died on 20 February at his home in St. Helena, California, on the Charles Krug estate, surrounded by his family.

Mondavi’s career in wine began as a boy nailing boxes for his father’s wine-grape shipping business. He went on to earn a degree in economics from Stanford University in 1938, but was drawn to winemaking, performing research in oenology at the University of California, Berkeley. World War II interrupted his career, and he served in the military overseas, returning in 1946.

In 1943, his Italian-born parents, Cesare and Rosa Grassi Mondavi, purchased the Charles Krug Winery in Napa, which was set up in 1861 by Prussian emigrant Charles Krug. Still the oldest operating winery in the Napa Valley, Mondavi assumed the role of president and CEO of the Charles Krug Winery upon his mother’s death in 1976.

“Fiercely determined to keep the winery family owned in the midst of corporate buyouts happening up and down Napa Valley, Mondavi led an effort to preserve the family’s estate vineyards”, the family said in a statement. “During a nine-year period ended in 2010, Mondavi invested $22 million in replanting 400 prime acres of vineyards with primarily red Bordeaux varietals, instituting sustainable farming practices and implementing state-of-the-art winemaking equipment in the process. Mondavi invested a lifetime in building, growing and protecting his family’s business. Asked late in life to note his proudest accomplishment, he replied, ‘Never losing control of our family winery. If I could, I would tell my father: I did the best I could during the difficult years. I was determined and we held on’.”

Known for making significant advancements to California winemaking, Mondavi earned legendary status among Napa Valley vintners. As a student, he studied the effects of cold fermentation on white and rosé wines, which were then being fermented at higher temperatures and losing their distinct characteristics through oxidation. His revolutionary research and practical methods resulted in the production of exceptionally crisp, fruity white wines.

Under Mondavi’s tutelage in 1963, Charles Krug was the first winery in Napa Valley to import French oak barrels for ageing. In addition, he was among the pioneering vintners who planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay where dairy cows had previously dominated in the Carneros region of the valley. Throughout the late 60s and early 70s Mondavi acquired more than 800 acres of premium Napa Valley “at a mere fraction of current land values”, helping the estate to establish its range of estate-driven wines.

Continually acknowledged as one of Napa’s most prolific winemakers, in 1986 the Napa Valley Vintners Association named him one of “Twelve Living Legends in the Napa Valley,” and he was the last survivor of that group. In 2002, he graced the cover of the Wine Spectator as one of the “Napa Mavericks”, and in 2009 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Napa Valley vintners from the California State Fair. The US Congress acknowledged him and the winery on his 97th birthday in the Congressional Record, and his lifetime achievements were recognised in 2012 when he was inducted into the St. Helena-based Culinary Institute of America Vintners Hall of Fame for his industry contributions in cold fermentation and sterile filtration.

Mondavi officially retired in 2015 but was a continual fixture at the winery, where he would regularly climb two flights of stairs to his office. Today, Mondavi’s sons, Marc and Peter Jr., lead the winery, with his grandchildren in the wings.

Mondavi was preceded in death by his wife, Blanche, who died in 2010, and his siblings, Robert, Mary and Helen. He is survived by a daughter, Siena, two sons, Marc and Peter Jr., nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

One Response to “Napa ‘legend’ Peter Mondavi Sr dies aged 101”

  1. Fernando Feijo says:

    There is not too much more to say about this real american wine legend, I sincerely hope as a man of wine, that USA Congress and California state will be represented at a high level in the mourning and funeral, not only by the usual reasons but for the respect that this gentleman deserves for a country that before him, made very few in this particular business. Today US shall be proud about rhe wines produced and exported, thanks to people like Mr. Mondavi, Paul,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Regional Account Manager

New Generation Wines
London, UK

Experienced Sales Account Manager – On Trade

Cantina Goccia
London and the south, UK

National Sales Manager – Premium Drinks

Core Recruitment
London based with national travel

Wine Trainee

Stone, Vine & Sun
Twyford, near Winchester, Hampshire

Senior Technologist - Drinks

Conviviality Group
London, UK

Procurement Manager

JF Hillebrand Global Beverage Logistics
Essex, UK

Porter & Laker Manager

Porter & Laker
Essex, UK

Sales Manager & Brand Ambassador - Southwest

Salcombe Distilling Co.
Southwest of England - reporting to Salcombe HQ, GB

Head of Marketing

ATOM Supplies
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Private Client Sales Manager

Cult Wines
Hammersmith, London, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 24th February 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more