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Fall/Winter 2009

The Legend Lives On

Peter Mondavi Sr. reflects upon receiving an award for lifetime achievement.

By Michaela Jarvis

These days, Peter Mondavi Sr. spends much of his time putting together a wine library, organizing his life’s work according to vintage. As he chronologically orders wines dating all the way back to 1944, he stops periodically to taste them, assessing what those years of unrelenting hard work and determination produced. For the 95-year-old winemaker, this year’s winner of the California Exposition and State Fair’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the library project is not unlike his careful categorization in his still-sharp memory of the events of his lifetime.
When asked about his family’s legacy and what he thinks is most important in life, Mondavi’s response is no-nonsense. Even at an age when many people are three decades into retirement, his focus is still on work.
“Whatever job you have, do it well,” Mondavi said during an interview at his family’s Charles Krug winery in St. Helena. “Then, you can progress.”
The Mondavis came to the Napa Valley in the late 1930s and bought the Charles Krug winery in 1943. In the 1960s, the family had a famous falling out with Peter Mondavi Sr.’s older brother, Robert, who started his own winery and went on to international fame, as a winemaker and promoter of wine. Robert Mondavi also won the California Exposition and State Fair’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
Peter Mondavi Sr.’s sons, Marc and Peter Jr., and their families will inherit Charles Krug and its 850 acres of vineyards—an arrangement the elder Mondavi says he “spent the last 40 years” putting into place.
“I have no regrets on what I’ve done, even though there have been a lot of difficult times,” Mondavi said. “You work on it, and it comes around. Through thick and thin, I was determined.”

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