Being born Peter Mondavi Jr. has its perks. In 1943, before he was born, his family bought the Charles Krug winery—the oldest vineyard in Napa Valley and the one that launched the whole wine business there. The Mondavis had gotten their first experience making wine during Prohibition. “I got my first paycheck for doing odd jobs in the vineyard when I was eight,” Mondavi says.
In college he didn't study wine making but rather engineering and business. He learned how to make world-class vino “from the school of hard knocks,” doing everything there is to do at his family's vineyard. Now 53, Mondavi is the proprietor of the Charles Krug winery—which is still family owned and turns 150 this year. He hosted a bash last month to mark the birthday of the vineyard that started it all in Napa. Guests were treated to live music and rare wines (though not the priceless 1944 vintage Peter Mondavi Sr. has tucked away—his first). Didn't make the party? Have your own with a 150th anniversary magnum of Charles Krug cabernet (left, $150), a 2008 vintage squeezed from 100 percent estate-grown grapes. Only 770 cases were made of this fruit-forward yet balanced red. Mondavi Jr. recommends a New York strip to accompany it. Or swing by the winery's tasting room so you can sip the whole line of Charles Krug wines.
The Essentials: More information at charleskrug.com