On June 9th, Napa’s oldest winery, Charles Krug reopened its St. Helena estate adhering to local guidelines, after being closed since March 16th in compliance with California’s statewide Shelter-in-Place order. The reopening comes with a variety of new protocols that go above and beyond county and state recommendations to ensure health and safety for everyone.
A Pleasant Physically-Distanced Wine Experience
5 new WiFi-enabled cabanas within the winery’s Picnic Grounds will be unveiled with the reopening. Although the cabanas were already under construction before the Pandemic, they are particularly timely to facilitate efficient physically-distanced wine experiences. The winery’s diverse culinary offerings will still be available on a modified schedule: artisan pizzas from Charles Krug’s wood-fired Mugnaini oven will be available Friday through Sunday, while local culinary partner, Tre Posti, will offer both cheese and charcuterie plates, as well as grab-and-go items.
Additional Winery Safety Measures
On top of meeting Napa County’s official safety guidelines including face masks worn by employees, extra hygiene protocol and more, Charles Krug’s tasting room consulted with Winery Safety Officer AJ Perez to implement stricter standards:
Comprehensive “Deep Clean” disinfecting, misting of general and targeted touchpoints in all areas of the winery before Grand Opening
Appointment-only booking to limit occupancy within winery
Outdoor-only tasting, with wine delivered in pre-poured glasses. Wine service will be guided by a masked Wine Ambassador from a safe distance
All tables, furnishings, and flat surfaces will be sanitized after each guest visit
A concierge will manage customer flow and monitor physical distancing while guests are waiting to be seated, entering or leaving the property
Touch-free transactions, with goods being placed directly in the guest’s car or carried out by customers as they prefer
Water will be served in single-serve recyclable containers
Restrooms are cleaned every 30-60 minutes
About Charles Krug: In 1943, Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the historic Charles Krug property, the oldest winery in the Napa Valley and longest-running tasting room in California. The brand was built on a foundation of family values, hard work and a European winemaking tradition; it remains a family-owned winery today, producing estate-driven, top of the line Napa Valley wines. The wineries are under the direction of Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi, who steward the family business passed to them by their father, legendary Napa Valley wine icon Peter Mondavi Sr. The family is now proudly welcoming members of the fourth generation to the business, continuing a legacy started over 70 years ago and setting a foundation for generations to come.
(Contributed by Alexandro Gomez) Wine is my love potion. Never before would I have thought wine could be this interesting. It all started in the summer of 2019 when I met the Robledo family, owners of Robledo Family Vineyards in Sonoma, California. They established the first tasting room in the United States that is owned by a former Mexican migrant vineyard worker and his family. After much discussion of my interest in wine, they offered me a harvest internship. Although I was very excited about this opportunity, I was also scared and nervous as I knew nothing about harvest or wine in general.
First Day on the Job
As I was pulling up to the vineyard at around 5am, I noticed how fast the harvest workers already were at picking grapes. Luckily, my father taught me about hard work and how to quickly adapt to tough situations. I began picking as fast as possible, knowing these workers were also relying on me to do the job well. After about 6 hours and 24 blade cuts later, I sat under the shade for some water and thought to myself – I want more!
A Promotion to the Cellar
Seeing my instant enthusiasm, the Robledo brothers offered me work in the cellars where I would soon realize the art of winemaking. Again, it was an extremely fast-paced working environment, but I went with the flow, despite being very green. My curiosity and motivation helped push me to learn more. I was assigned to clean tanks, disinfect barrels, mop floors, clean hoses, and many other tasks. Working in the cellars was a major eye opener, because I learned winemaking techniques and the language of wine. The experience was just what I needed to immerse myself into the wine production world.
My internship at Robledo Family Winery ended after four months, and I decided to focus on my final exams and also gain more experience on the business side of the wine industry. It has been a great learning journey so far and I’m looking forward to more!
(Contributed by Gabriele Brusamarello) – My best tasting room experience was at the Serego Alighieri Estate, in the heart of the Valpolicella wine region in Italy. Located just a few miles away from the historic and magical city of Verona and beautiful Lake Garda, the winery estate was establish in 1353. It was a sunny and warm day in spring 2012, and I went to visit the winery with some basketball teammates since we were playing for the Verona basketball team. When we first arrived, we were surrounded by nature, astonished by the historic beauty and uniqueness of the location, and our friend Massimilla (daughter of the owners of the winery) warmly welcomed us and gave us a great tour of the whole Serego Alighieri estate and vineyards.
Serego Alighieri Estate in Italy
When we first arrived, we were astonished by the historic beauty and uniqueness of the location, surrounded by nature. Our friend Massimilla (daughter of the owners of the winery) warmly welcomed us and gave us a great tour of the whole estate and vineyards.
Tasting the Amarone Wine
After the tour, Massimilla escorted us to the cellar, where grapes used to make Amarone were left to rest during the winter months for hundreds of years. We were welcomed by Massimilla’s family inside the cellar who made us feel like family the moment we walked in. A place with centuries of history immediately became an extremely friendly environment, which made the whole experience even more pleasant and memorable.
Inside the cellar we were offered many red wines that Serego Alighieri produced, including Valpolicella Classico Superiore, the Recioto Della Valpolicella, and delicious Amarone Della Valpolicella of different years. They were complemented by a variety of salame, prosciutto crudo, and porchetta, as well as different cheeses. Pairing wine and food helped wine to release its best flavors and aromas –it was absolutely perfect.
History and Family Linked to Dante
What made this so special is the history and family. In fact, Massimilla’s father told us that the estate was bought in 1353 by the son of the Supreme Poet Dante Alighieri. The fact that we were able to walk around made the whole experience surreal, magical, and breathtaking. I will always remember that special day and to be the experience that made me love wine even more than before.
(By Guest Author Nicholas Giampaoli) Growing up in the city of San Jose, I was not very familiar with wineries. I always figured that wine came from Sonoma and Napa County. After coming to Sonoma State and becoming more familiar with wine country, when I visited home I wanted to check out some local wineries. I had no idea they even existed in the south bay until I did a web search.
During my web search I came across Testarossa Winery. It turned out that the winery is very historic and is considered the fourth oldest California winery still in operation. Before the winery was called Testarossa, it was Novitate founded in 1888 in Los Gatos. I love anything with historic significance, so I decided to check it out. It may be a coincidence being my favorite and most memorable tasting room experience but also my very first winery tasting room experience.
Nestled up against the Santa Cruz Mountains, the property was beautiful with California nature surrounding the winery. Testarossa had somewhat newer buildings in place for the winey, but also left one of the original buildings from when it was first built. They used the building to store the tanks for the fermentation process.
The tasting room was located in a small cave. This was what I found to be awesome. I absolutely love the idea of being inside the mountain with dim lighting. I don’t know why but I think that is really cool. The tasting room representative was really nice and informative. But what I think sold me was the environment of the winery. If I am ever back in the area I would visit Testarossa again. (http://www.testarossa.com/)
NOTE: This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.