Charles Krug winery revamps with a remake of their 1872 Cellar


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Joe Becerra

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Charles Krug Winery and the 1872 Redwood Cellar

My, how things have changed at the Charles Krug Winery. In November 2013, the Charles Krug winery re-opened their historic Redwood Cellar built in 1872. It had been renovated an earthquake-proofed and today serves as its tasting and hospitality room. Visitors can see the extensive barrel room while they taste from a variety of choices. There is a classic tasting at $20 per person, and this is the one we selected on our recent visit. There is also a barrel tasting, a tour, and tasting, a tasting of Reserve wines and of limited release wines.  Yes, something for eveyone here at Charles Krug.  The opening of the old Redwood Cellar is the culmination of a ten-year-long renovation in the Charles Krug vineyards and the winemaking facility.

Charles Krug is historic for two reasons. First of all, it was founded in 1861 by Charles Krug at the age of 26, and the winery has been in operation ever since. The second historic importance is that Ceasare Mondavi, at the suggestion of his son Robert, purchased the winery in 1943. That’s where things got interesting. Robert Mondavi and his brother Peter Mondavi did not get along very well. The two ended up in a fist fight and, when Robert got the best of it, his mother Rosa Mondavi sent him packing. Today it is Peter Mondavi Jr. who is the patriarch of Charles Krug. He and his two sons run the show. What’s neat about Peter is that, as he approaches his 100th birthday (October of this year), he is still an active participant in the operation of the winery.

In 2011 the Mondavi Family hired Stacy Clark as winemaker. Stacy had been the winemaker at Pine Ridge for 25 years. Mostly, it will be Stacy Clark handling the winemaking, with Peter Mondavi Jr. taking a supporting role.

The new tasting room is grandiose in comparison to the old tasting room. There is a greeter at the door, and inside the tasting room is an impressive facility. The wall behind the  tasting room counter is artfully decorated with wine bottles labeled 1861, the date of the founding of the Charles Krug Winery. The racks holding the bottles were made from the old redwood casks.

At the opposite end of the Redwood Cellar tasting room is a deli run by one of the local caterers. It is named after Rosa, called Rosa’s Cantina. It is now open from Friday to Sunday. Folks can buy a deli lunch along with a glass of wine to enjoy. Outside the Charles Krug, tasting room is an expansive grassy area.  It is a great venue for a wine country picnic.

In addition to the large tasting room, there is also the barrel room to visit. The barrel room houses the top-of-the-line wines that yield about 50,000 cases a year. Those wines range in price from $15 to $100. The barrels are not stacked and, luckily, in the recent earthquake, no barrels were damaged. In addition to the premium wines, the bread-and-butter wines are the C.K Mondavi level. These are bulk wines and produce 1.5 million gallons a year. My Dad was a big fan of C.K. Mondavi jug wine.

One of our favorite wines at Charles Krug is the Sauvignon Blanc. It is a crisp wine, loaded with citrus fruit flavors. This would be our top choice to go with some deli goodies to enjoy outside in the picnic area.  We also liked the Pinot Noir made from a Carneros vineyard that is owned and managed by the winery.

If you visit, be sure to look at the California Academy garden. Charles Krug winery has lent the CIA this patch of land to grow fresh produce for their culinary school and restaurant. The Charles Krug winery is open 10:30am to 5pm daily. Nearby, don’t miss the CIA and the St. Clement winery and Ballentine Vineyards.

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.