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Napa’s Charles Krug Aims To Grow Reserve Tier And Market Vast Wine Library

June 22, 2016

After losing patriarch Peter Mondavi, Sr. this past February at the age of 101, Napa Valley’s Charles Krug Winery is looking to burnish its legacy as one of Napa’s pioneering players with a new initiative to market selections from its 10,000-bottle wine library, whose oldest bottle dates to 1944.

Peter Mondavi, Jr., who serves as co-proprietor of Charles Krug along with his brother Marc, tells SND that selections from the winery’s archive dating back to the 1960s will be made available mainly on a direct-to-consumer basis, as well as for restaurants, which will be able to offer vertical selections on their wine list. “We’re looking at different ways to package the wines,” Mondavi, Jr. says. “It will probably be a six-pack case, with two bottles each of three vintages. And there will be some vintage variation among the six-packs, so if you order three six-packs you would get nine different vintages.”

Mondavi, Jr. adds that the wine library project offers an opportunity for Charles Krug—which was acquired by the Mondavi family in 1943—to set itself apart, as one of the few California wineries with the stocks to sustain such an effort. “It’s something you have to steward and care for,” he says. “We’re putting together a program that will respect the older vintages and keep some availability alive over a period of time. Looking forward, we’ll formalize how much goes into the wine library for each vintage.”

Charles Krug currently produces about 85,000 cases annually, up slightly in recent years, and the winery has been investing heavily in its vineyards, winemaking and barrel budget, which is now about $1 million annually. The company also recently completed a $7 million hospitality center, with an eye toward building its direct-to-consumer sales, which now account for about 7% of volume but 15% of value.

Throughout its 10 vineyards—all in Napa—Charles Krug has about 500 acres planted, with roughly two-thirds of its vines devoted to Bordeaux reds, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon. “Our Napa Valley estate-bottled Cab ($30) is about half our volume,” says Mondavi, Jr. “But we want to grow our Reserves—including the Generations Bordeaux blend ($60), Family Reserve Howell Mountain Cab ($75) and Vintage Select Cab ($100)—because we’re under-utilizing our vineyards. We have quality fruit far exceeding our production levels, so there’s plenty of room to grow into that over time.” —Daniel Marsteller

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