The Peter Mondavi Family officially embarked on the next phase of the restoration project of the Redwood Cellar at Charles Krug Winery last Tuesday when Peter Mondavi Sr., sons Marc and Peter Jr. and their families, joined Napa Valley architect Howard Backen and Tom Andrews of Andrews and Thornley General Contractors to break ground for Charles Krug’s new hospitality center.
Peter Mondavi Sr. jauntily pointed his golden shovel into the dirt for the ceremonial groundbreaking photo, and then encouraged the assembled construction team to get to work. “I don’t want to wait forever!” quipped the lively 97-year-old vintner. Backen and his firm Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects designed Charles Krug’s new tasting room and visitor center to be located inside the heritage building at the winery in St. Helena.
Guests and family donned hard hats and shrugged off rumors of ghost sightings as they accompanied Peter Mondavi Jr. on a tour of the cavernous multi-story stone structure. Adorned with 68 windows outlined in pink rhyolite and topped with many gables and an impressive belvedere, the 1872 Cellar remains as vintner Charles Krug’s testament to Napa Valley wine. The new hospitality center will occupy 11,000 square feet on the ground floor and the mezzanine of the Napa Valley’s oldest commercial winery, with Backen adding inspired modern touches while preserving the Redwood Cellar’s patina and rustic allure. The work is expected to take 14 months, with opening day slated for October 2013.
Howard Backen's blueprints for the project reveal an intricate lacework of exposed historic rafters and, beyond the mezzanine, views of the Peter Mondavi Family’s reserve Bordeaux barrel aging room through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. A towering 9000-gallon redwood aging tank and period bird-cage style elevator will be focal points, and recycled redwood from vintage wine tanks originally installed in the 1940’s, and other historical elements, will be preserved and incorporated into the design. In addition to several wine lounges, there will be a state of the art open professional kitchen, a casual eatery offering regionally sourced picnic fare inspired by the family’s Italian heritage, and a picnic area with views of surrounding vineyards and Mount St. Helena.
At the groundbreaking, visitors mingled and posed for pictures with three generations of the Peter Mondavi Family and star-architect Backen, whose portfolio of work includes Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle wineries, as well as projects for Robert Redford, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, and the late Steve Jobs of Apple.
The hospitality center project is budgeted at $6 million. The Peter Mondavi Family recently completed a $9.6 million earthquake retrofit and exterior restoration of the Redwood Cellar and Charles Krug’s other heritage structure, the 1881 Carriage House. The Redwood Cellar and Carriage House represent the birthplace of the Napa Valley wine industry; both are California Historic Landmarks and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Charles Krug Winery’s storied history traces the transformation of the Napa Valley from “Wild West” to Wine Country destination. With a legacy of nearly 70 years at Charles Krug, the Peter Mondavi Family’s continuing restoration project is part of a complete recasting of this esteemed Napa Valley winery. Having extensively replanted its vineyards with a focus on noble red Bordeaux varietals, the family is now practicing sustainable viticulture on its 850 prime Napa Valley acres. Those efforts to steward the land and preserve the winery's historical legacy are earning new respect for a family long identified with California wine.
The winery’s hospitality staff will continue to welcome visitors at the existing tasting room during construction. To learn more about Charles Krug Winery and the vision of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, visit www.charleskrug.com.