Peter Mondavi, Napa Valley wine pioneer, has died at 101

SAN FRANCISCO -- Peter Mondavi, a Napa Valley wine country innovator who led his family's Charles Krug Winery through more than a half-century of change, has died.

See Full Article

He was 101.

Mondavi died Saturday at his home in St. Helena, California, said Wendy Lane Stevens, a member of the C. Mondavi and Family board of directors.

Mondavi, who battled his more famous brother Robert Mondavi for control of Charles Krug, began his career at a time when the Napa Valley was known chiefly for cheap wine and witnessed it grow into one of the world's premiere wine regions.

He played a part in that rise, pioneering a number of improvements to California winemaking, including the use of cold fermentation for white wines and sterile filtration. Charles Krug has been in the hands of the Mondavi family since 1943, when it was purchased by Mondavi's parents, Cesare and Rosa.

Peter and Robert ran the winery together after Cesare's death in 1959 but were unable to agree on management styles and split, with Robert founding the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966. Later, the brothers reconciled and in 2005 celebrated their reunion by making a special blend of wine together.

Today, Peter Mondavi's sons lead the family business. Marc Mondavi heads the 1.4 million-case CK Mondavi Vineyards division, producer of a popular line of affordable wines, and Peter Jr. leads Charles Krug, producer of premium Napa Valley wines.

Born Nov. 8, 1914, the youngest of four children, Mondavi got his start as a boy packing boxes for his father's grape-shipping business. He went on to earn a degree in economics from Stanford University in 1937 and was drawn to the wine business, studying enology at the University of California, Berkeley.

World War II interrupted his career and Mondavi served in the military, returning stateside in 1946. Four years later he married Blanche Hurtzig, who died in 2010. The couple had three children, Marc, Peter Jr. and a daughter, Siena.

In his studies, Mondavi had researched the effects of cold fermentation on white and rose wines, which then were being fermented at higher temperatures which meant they lost their fruity character through oxidation. He applied what he learned at the winery to make fresher whites.

Charles Krug also was the first Napa Valley winery to import French oak barrels to use in aging wine, and in 1963 was among the first to vintage-date varietal wines.

Determined to keep the winery family owned despite corporate buyouts happening throughout the valley -- the Robert Mondavi Winery was sold to Constellation Brands in 2004 -- Peter Mondavi worked to preserve the family holdings, investing $24 million over a nine-year period to replant most of the vineyards and farm them sustainably. Today, the Peter Mondavi family owns 850 acres of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley.

Though he didn't run the day-to-day business, Mondavi continued to be a fixture at the office, climbing the two flights of stairs to his office even as a centenarian. He credited his stamina to good genes, hard work, pasta Bolognese -- and a daily glass of cabernet sauvignon.


Latest Economic News

  • Asian stocks mixed due to Wall Street gloom

    Economic CTV News
    TOKYO -- Asian shares were mixed Friday as a weaker yen sent Japan's benchmark higher, despite persisting gloom from Wall Street's recent declines. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 per cent to 17,446.41 and the Shanghai Composite index inched up less than 0.1 per cent to 3,112.91. Source
  • Amazon using Prime service to court food shoppers

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Amazon wants you to order your turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce online this Thanksgiving - its latest effort to make its Prime subscription service a central part of food shopping, much the way it's done for other consumer goods. Source
  • Police arrest, evict oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota

    Economic CTV News
    CANNON BALL, N.D. - A months-long protest over the Dakota Access oil pipeline reached its most chaotic pitch yet when hundreds of law enforcement officers moved in to force activists off private property. Thursday's nearly six-hour operation dramatically escalated the dispute over Native American rights and the project's environmental impact, with officers in riot gear firing bean bags and pepper spray. Source
  • Feds defend Pacific NorthWest LNG decision as court challenges filed

    Economic CTV News
    Catherine McKenna, second left, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, speaks while flanked by Jim Carr, from left to right, Minister of Natural Resources, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, after the federal government announced approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, at the Sea Island Coast Guard Base, in Richmond, B.C. Source
  • United Way loses top ranking as America's largest charity

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- United Way, ranked as America's largest charity for all but one of the past 25 years, has been emphatically knocked from that spot by Fidelity Charitable, the leader of a rapidly growing philanthropic sector that is transforming the way many Americans give. Source
  • Meet George Jetson: Uber sees flying commuters in 10 years

    Economic CBC News
    Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up. Uber Technologies Inc released a white paper on Thursday envisioning a future in which commuters hop onto a small aircraft, take off vertically and within minutes arrive at their destinations. Source
  • Husky Energy says response to Saskatchewan oil spill cost $90M

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Husky Energy says it has spent about $90 million responding to a pipeline spill in July that sent some 225,000 litres of heavy oil and diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. The Calgary-based company said Thursday that it believes the amount spent up to Sept. Source
  • Oilsands players hammer down costs, but is it enough?

    Economic CBC News
    The cost of producing a barrel of oilsands oil has come down substantially, but red ink continued to rule the day in the Alberta energy sector as third-quarter earnings rolled out this week. Suncor — one of three major oilsands producers that reported earnings in the past 24 hours — said that its operating costs decreased to $22.15 a barrel, an 18 per cent reduction over last year. Source
  • Police, soldiers move in to force Dakota Access protesters off private land

    Economic CBC News
    Armed law enforcement officers and soldiers, including some in riot gear, moved in on Thursday to remove Dakota Access pipeline protesters camped on private land in the path of the oil pipeline in North Dakota. Authorities with trucks, police cars, military Humvees and buses began the operation just before midday, with sirens blaring and officials telling protesters over a loudspeaker to move out. Source
  • National Bank cutting 600 jobs as part of digital shift

    Economic CBC News
    National Bank announced Thursday it will eliminate about 600 jobs as it aims to speed up its transition to the growing digital economy. At the same time, the Montreal-based bank said it will hire about 500 people, especially in sales and service and information technology functions. Source