Peter Mondavi Jr Chats Wine with Joseph & Curtis
What’s it like growing up with a last name like Mondavi? Well chances are your going to end up in the wine business and of course that’s what happened to Peter Mondavi Jr. And yes I am talking about “that” Mondavi family. We caught up with Peter who was more than happy to share some of his insights and we were delighted!
Peter’s best advice? It’s OK not to like wine that other people say you should like. So sit back and pour yourself a nice one and enjoy!
What was it like growing up with a last name like Mondavi?
Decades ago, growing up a bit isolated in rural Napa Valley, with lots of other kids related to vintners, didn’t make our last name stand out!
Favorite childhood experiences?
I’ll never forget Easter egg hunts with our cousins on the Great Lawn at Charles Krug. If it happened to be raining on Easter Sunday, we’d hunt for eggs in the Redwood Cellar, amongst the wine tanks!
When did you know wine would become your life/job etc?
It grew on me; there was no epiphany moment. I started when I was eight years old, working four hours a day during the summer, doing odd jobs. I progressed up through the lab, vineyards, and so on, and came straight back to the winery after college.
We are now much more specialized in our varietal selection and where we plant. In the old days, if we needed more Chenin Blanc, we just planted it on whatever open land we had. Today it is a very rigorous program to analyze soils and figure how to prepare it properly; we pay close attention to rootstock selection, clonal selection, vine planting density, trellising and pruning techniques and so on… And today, we are focused on the Bordeaux red
varietals in our vineyards.
How challenging is it to modernize without losing your sense of history and tradition?
Our family legacy and intimate involvement (now entering the fourth generation) are key to keeping the tradition while keeping an eye open to all the advancements that are occurring around us. We pick and choose which advancements to try and subsequently incorporate those into our grape growing and winemaking. But we never want to lose site of the inspirations of my grandparents, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi.
Thoughts on Europe and their skills?
It is the land that started it all. The wines are great but stylistically different, of course (but not better or worse than ours, I’m compelled to say, just different!). I think there are more constraints there due to tradition and regulations.
If you could have dinner with two people, who would they be and what would you drink?
Any great steak house–there is no better accompaniment than a great Charles Krug Cab and a great steak!
What’s your opinion of the point system?
It’s good for you if your palate lines up completely with the person who issued the score. If not, you are out of luck—the score won’t be helpful to you.
Why do you think it’s important to cellar wine and of course use Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars 🙂 ?
For any long-term storage it is imperative to maintain the proper environment: constant temperature, cool and dark. For aging a wine, it makes sense to cellar only those which will benefit from extended cellaring, and then only if you like that style.
How broad is the market in terms of price points? Is the top-end product you’re offering more of a niche?
As far as wines distributed nationally, we range from $18 for our Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc up to $75 for our Vintage Selection Cabernet. The top end is more exclusive and focused in the on-premise sector. The Limited Release wines are very special, small-lot bottlings, available at the winery or on the website only, and go up to $125.
Charles Krug wines are distributed in all 50 states and available in fine wine shops as well as many restaurants. Unique bottlings such as our 150th Anniversary Commemorative Cabernet Sauvignon are available directly from the winery. As long as direct shipment is allowed, we can definitely arrange to have those signed by the family.