Wines, wineries, and wine tasting have long been synonymous with California. In a state that is home to 3,674 wineries and produces more wine than any other state in the U.S., It’s no wonder that wine tasting is a popular activity for locals and visitors alike.
But there is just one winery that started the wine tasting trend in California in 1882: Charles Krug. The oldest tasting room in the state is located in the charming town of St. Helena in Napa Valley. Charles Krug has become a destination offering multiple tasting experiences and year-round venue for musical and cultural events. Guests are welcome to wander the grounds which contain historic buildings and homes of the current owners, the Mondavi family.
In 1861, Prussian immigrant, Charles Krug, established the first winery in Napa Valley. In 1943 Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the winery and grew it into a thriving venture. Now operated by their grandsons, Peter and Marc Mondavi, Charles Krug produces world-class wines and is among the most visited wineries in the region.
Taste World Class Wines
The most obvious reason to visit Charles Krug is to taste the excellent wine. Especially well-known for their cabernet sauvignon, Charles Krug also produces sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, and malbec.
A variety of experiences are offered. Reserve a one-hour tasting which will include a sauvignon blanc and a few of their small-lot cabernet sauvignons. If you have more time and want to learn about the winemaking process, book a 90-minute tour and tasting. During the tour, you’ll learn about the Krug and Mondavi families and explore the gorgeous redwood cellar. Both of these experiences should be reserved in advance, and are available in the morning or afternoon. Dogs are welcomed at Charles Krug in the outdoor spaces as long as they remain on a leash.
For a full-day experience, try A Taste Of History. Start at Charles Krug with a glass of sparkling wine, then proceed to Beringer Vineyards for a gourmet picnic lunch, and end at Markham Vineyards for a tasting. All three of these historic wineries date back to the late 19th century and feature excellent wines and a gorgeous setting.
Many of the wines offered for tastings are only available for purchase at the winery. So if you sample something you really enjoy, don’t leave without buying a bottle or two.
Relax In A Cabana
If you’re traveling to Napa Valley with friends, reserve one of the cabanas at Charles Krug and relax outdoors while sampling several excellent vintages. Groups of up to six can reserve a cabana for two hours. You’ll have the option for wine tasting or ordering a bottle of your favorite wine. Food is also available for purchase. Reservations are required and should be made several weeks in advance.
Attend An Outdoor Event
The vast grounds of Charles Krug make it an excellent spot for hosting more than 125 public events throughout the year. Through the Blue Note concert series, there’s a great selection of concerts. Whether you enjoy jazz, pop, or classical music, there is something for everyone. Recent guests include Brian McKnight, Dave Coz & Friends, and Chris Botti. Thanks to Cameo Cinema there’s also a series of outdoor movies offered during the summer. If you’re visiting in October, be sure to purchase tickets for the Annual Harvest Party. Enjoy live music, unlimited wine tasting and delicious Italian food.
Support A Family Owned And Operated Winery
Charles Krug remains a family-owned and operated winery. Today the fourth generation of Mondavis are working in the business. Don’t be surprised to see co-proprietors, Marc and Peter, or one of their six children, on site during your visit. In fact, Marc still travels around the country to meet with markets, restaurants, and distributors of their wine.
Tips For A Successful Visit To Charles Krug
Napa Valley receives almost 4 million visitors a year. So pre-planning is required for all parts of your trip, including a visit to Charles Krug. Reservations are required. If you’re visiting during the peak months of August through October, be sure to make those reservations a few weeks in advance.
Wine tasting often results in the purchase of bottles, or even cases, of wine. If you’ve flown into the area, check with your airline about shipping options. Alaska Airlines will fly your wine home for free if you’re traveling to one of 32 West Coast airports. There are many shops in Napa Valley that sell packing materials to protect your wine during shipping.
Wine tasting experiences at Charles Krug range from $45 to $170 dollars, and this is typical of all wineries in Napa. The time needed for these experiences ranges from 1- to 5 hours, so choose your tasting destinations carefully. Research the options in advance and select wineries that offer the type of wine and experience you will most enjoy.
California wineries are among the most visited destinations in the Golden Bear State: