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Explore Charles Krug Winery: Pioneers of Napa Wine Tasting

Photos courtesy of Charles Krug Winery

Charles Krug Winery Vineyards

Courtesy of Charles Krug Winery

Discover Charles Krug Winery, where California wine-tasting culture began.

One of wine culture’s greatest allures is the wine-tasting ritual. It is standard practice that most wineries worldwide offer varied hospitality experiences where guests are toured through the winemaking facilities and barrel rooms, followed by food and wine pairings that spotlight a label’s varietal wines.

In California, the wine-tasting practice originated at the Charles Krug Winery, founded in 1861 in Napa Valley by Prussian immigrant Charles Krug, who opened his estate for public tastings in 1882, establishing the Golden State’s first wine-tasting room. 

Today, the Charles Krug Estate is renowned for its exceptional wines, which tourists can enjoy within its stunning world-class St. Helena venue, where the winery’s rich history can be fully explored and appreciated.

Though, at the time, he was considered a winemaking visionary, Krug would probably be quite surprised by the transformation of his humble winery and the original 540 acres of prime land that he acquired via his marriage to Carolina Bale. 

Charles Krug

She was the daughter of early Napa pioneer and miller Edward Turner Bale and the granddaughter of María Isidora Vallejo from the esteemed Californio Vallejo family.

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Today, the Charles Krug Redwood Cellar (built in 1872) and Carriage House (built in 1881) are home to a tasting room and hospitality center designed by the talented architect Howard Backen. The renovations and restorations won the winery several awards, including the Napa County Landmark Award of Merit and the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award

Charles Krug Winery building today

Backen, a famed designer of many of Wine Country’s most scenic properties, worked within strict standards, as the legendary estate is a registered California Historical Landmark. His inspiration was two-fold: to preserve the elegant and significant structures for generations and continue utilizing them for winemaking, cultural activities, and hospitality. 

Charles Krug Winery interior

The motivation was particularly pertinent to the current owners, the Mondavi family, whose forebears Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the winery in 1943 to continue building the winery’s reputation for quality and innovation, which Krug was well-known for. He introduced novel ideas, such as using a cider press to press grapes and meticulously selecting rootstocks, varietals and vineyard sites.

Charles Krug Winery, Mondavi family

Krug’s dedication to learning and sharing knowledge was pivotal in advancing the budding California wine industry, something the Mondavis take seriously as stewards of the oldest winery in Napa Valley.

“Hospitality has always been at the core of our philosophy at Charles Krug, and our ICONIC Redwood Cellar tasting room is central to showcasing our position as a pioneer in Napa Valley tourism,” says fourth-generation family member Riana Mondavi, co-proprietress of the winery. “We’re excited to continue evolving Charles Krug as the winery for Napa’s next generation and the epicenter of culture in Napa Valley.”

At Charles Krug, guests can sample the winery’s varied bottlings, such as the core-foundation Napa Valley Series of wines crafted from sustainably grown, pristine fruit from estate vineyards in Napa’s best wine appellations. Or the Family Reserve portfolio, offering expertly crafted Bordeaux-style wines. 

Charles Krug Winery wine bottles

Generations Red Blend and Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, two of Charles Krug’s most popular and critically acclaimed offerings, showcase the expertise of Angelina Mondavi, fourth-generation family member and consulting winemaker. Angelina is a winemaking veteran with extensive experience making highly regarded wines. Her deeply rooted knowledge of her family’s 857 acres of prime Napa Valley land allows her to craft elegant, balanced wines evocative of their distinct terroir. 

Charles Krug Winery wine barreling room

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Enjoy the “Tour and Tasting” experience and trace Charles Krug’s winemaking history with a guided tour of the beautiful, historic estate. Try the “Blind Taste Like a Somm” experience and learn the nuances, tips and tricks of identifying wines like a sommelier. Or select the “Food & Wine Pairing” experience, which pairs small bites with exclusive wines. The “Caviar & Wine Pairing” features Italian Calvisius Caviar, exclusively hand-selected for Charles Krug, expertly paired with small-lot sparkling and white wines. 

Charles Krug winery patio

For an al fresco experience, reserve an outdoor private cabana and relax with a tailored experience of tasting flights by the glass, full-bottle selections and delicious culinary fare.

“As we toast to 80 years of bringing guests an experience like no other, we pride ourselves on being the pioneer of Napa Valley wine experiences,” says Peter Jr. and Marc Mondavi, co-proprietors of the winery. “Today, five generations later, our family legacy continues as stewards of this historic estate, the ultimate wine country destination.”

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