Wine, that ancient brew, has the power to soothe, warm and unite, as any drinker or winemaker can tell you.
I had the rare opportunity to sit down with a glass of red -- OK, a couple of glasses -- and speak with Peter Mondavi Jr., current proprietor of Charles Krug Winery, the oldest Napa Valley winery and one of the few that has remained in the hands of the same family since the Prohibition era.
Charles Krug, a Prussian immigrant and novice winemaker, originally established the St. Helena, Calif., winery in 1861. James Moffitt bought the winery in 1893 after Krug's death, and he wanted to pass ownership onto someone who could continue the prestigious Krug tradition.
Moffit sold the winery to his close friends Rosa and Cesare Mondavi in 1943 for $75,000. The Mondavis were a natural choice -- they were already involved in the world of viniculture, with their business distributing California wine grapes to other Italian emigres in the area.One of their sons, Peter Mondavi Sr., inherited the vineyard in 1966 and became a trendsetter in production techniques, introducing the use of glass-lined tanks and cold fermentation, which preserves the fruit character of the wine.
Peter Mondavi Jr., 49, now heads up Charles Krug Winery.
Recently, his father, Peter Sr., and uncle Robert, who in 1966 established his own winery in nearby Oakville, Calif., were given a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Peter Jr. has kept the custom of working with family alive and runs his winery with his brother, Marc. The brothers and their cousin, Robert's son Tim, led a seminar at the festival. The seminar featured sips of wines from Charles Krug Vintage Select 1965 and 1994, as well as a comprehensive tasting of more-recent vintages.
At the event, brothers Peter Sr. and Robert were reunited and poured the 2004 Ancora Una Volta Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was given its title, which means "together again," because it was the first wine the elder brothers produced together back in the 1960s at the original Mondavi family winery.