Vintner Peter Mondavi can be found behind his office desk at the Charles Krug Winery Monday through Friday, even some weekends, rain or shine.
Most working stiffs would say that’s no big deal. But they may not know that the wine family patriarch celebrated his 99th birthday two weeks ago and will be honored by family and friends at a big celebration at his family’s St. Helena winery Saturday night.[...]
Discussing his father’s start in the wine business, Mondavi noted that his father immigrated to the United States in the early part of the 20th century, settling in Minnesota as his brother and others from Sassoferrato and surrounding villages of Italy’s Le Marche region had done. When his brother was killed in the collapse of an iron mine, young Cesare Mondavi returned to his native land.
Once there, however, he decided he wanted to live in America, and asked a young woman he knew to join him as his bride. Seventeen-year-old Rosa accepted his proposal after her mother indicated it was Rosa’s choice to make.
Cesare and his young bride returned to Minnesota mining country, where they opened a saloon and a boardinghouse for miners. Rosa Mondavi “was a youngster when she started cooking,” her son points out, and she was well known in Napa Valley for her culinary talents. For several years, Rosa Mondavi kept house and cooked at least two meals a day for their 15 boarders, while her husband tended bar.
Eventually, “he sold the saloon and opened a grocery store,” Mondavi said. “That was when his friends asked him if he could get grapes for them so they could make their own wine. ... It was Prohibition and making your own wine was allowed.” [...]