Monday, December 1, 2014

In Honor of Charles Krug, 2011

From a speech by US Rep. Mike Thompson of California, September 21, 2011, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the winery. This speech contains some interesting facts of note in California wine history, including references to the phylloxera outbreak; his pioneering use of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot varieties; and to Robert Mondavi, who began his career there and later left to form his own wine-making concern.
 
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley's oldest and most historic wine-making establishment, and among the region's most highly acclaimed and admired firms. Charles Krug will be celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and in so doing will salute the century and a half of rich traditions and extraordinary wines cultivated under the esteemed brand.

In its long, storied history, Charles Krug has played host to and benefitted greatly from the hard work and immense accomplishments of some of the most famous and brilliant Wine Country luminaries. Among them were founder Charles Krug himself, Robert Mondavi, proprietor Peter Mondavi, Sr., and the current winemakers, brothers Peter, Jr., and Marc Mondavi. Today, the winery produces a line of super-premium and reserve wines, all made with estate-grown, sustainably farmed fruit from each of Napa Valley's esteemed sub-appellations: St. Helena, Cameros, Howell Mountain and Yountville.

Charles Krug was the first outfit in the Napa Valley to implement a handful of revolutionary techniques and technologies including the use of the cider press in 1858, the differentiation of product labels by vintage and varietal, the use of glass-lined tanks and the use of French oak barrels in 1963. The winery's estate vineyards have also been the sites of some historic innovations in the field of viticulture. Krug was the first vintner to purchase and develop vineyard land in the Howell Mountain area of Napa Valley. Peter Mondavi, Sr., avoided a costly replanting of the winery's vineyards when he bucked industry and rejected recommendations to plant the AXR1 rootstock, which was later found to be vulnerable to industry-ravaging phylloxera damage.

More impressive still, he was among the first vintners to develop vineyards in and around Carneros, demonstrating that Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot wines made from the grapes of this sub-appellation could reach high standards of quality.

Though Charles Krug Winery emerged as an early leader in the Napa Valley wine community, the company's commitment to serving the greater needs of the industry has always been a constant. Krug founded the St. Helena Viticultural Society in 1875, and assisted shortly thereafter with the establishment of the Napa and Sonoma Wine Company, a collaborative effort between producers to improve the quality of wine shipped to the East Coast. Today, after a century and a half's worth of work, the Charles Krug brand retains its place as one of the premier winemaking establishments in the Napa Valley region with a portfolio of wines that compete with the highest ranks of the national and international arenas.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate at this time for us to congratulate and applaud the proprietors and staff of Charles Krug Winery for their outstanding and ongoing work, embodying and representing some of the best that Napa Valley and California have to offer.