2800 Main Street, St. Helena, California

by Sergio Sismondo

Charles Krug Winery was founded in 1861. It was the first winery in Napa Valley. After 82 years of operation, it was purchased in 1943 by Cesare and Rose Mondavi, and continues to be managed by Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi. Since 2006 the principal winemaker is Adolfo Alarcon, a graduate of Viticulture and Enology of the University of California at Davis, originally a chemical engineer from Mexico.
Currently, major buildings of the 1860's and 1870's, which formed the winery back then, are undergoing important renovations, so that they may be again used by the public, and may be preserved for future generations. This is truly a major project which will bring an important part of the history of the wine business back to life. Re-opening these buldings to the public is like putting together a new and major museum of the wine industry.
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This historic winery is located on the east side of the Calistoga Highway (Route 29), just north of St. Helena, between Pratt Avenue and the Deer Park Road crossroads. The tasting room is spacious, cool, quiet, and generally very inviting. To the marvelous wines is added a large selection of accessories, wine books and cook books for visitors to purchase. Hospitality Manager Denise DuMond Berghorn and her staff look after every detail to make all guests comfortable. Candice Dunham and Tyson Cocke are winery guides who ably take guests from one wine to another with all the relevant information. The quality of the wines, the natural setting, and the friendliness of the staff make a visit to this winery a pleasure for any serious follower of wine.


We sampled a range of white and red wines, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and more. All the wines were very fine, and we rated them in the upper 80's and 90's. Following is a list of the wines sampled with our ratings.
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley 2000 88
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley 2001 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley 2002 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon Slinsen Vineyard, Napa Valley, 2001 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon Yountville, Napa Valley, 2004 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley Vintage Selection 1998 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon Napa Valley Vintage Selection 2002 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon "Generations" 2001 89
Chardonnay Napa Valley 2002 89
Chardonnay Napa Valley 2003 88
Chardonnay Carneros Family Reserve 2001 90
Chardonnay Carneros Family Reserve 2003 88
Meritage "Generations" Napa Valley 1999 90
Meritage "Generations" Napa Valley 2001 89
Merlot Napa Valley 1999 88
Merlot Napa Valley 2001 88
Merlot Napa Valley 2004 90
Merlot Napa Valley Family Reserve 2001 90
Pinot Noir Carneros 2001 89
Pinot Noir Carneros 2003 88
Pinot Noir Carneros, Napa Valley 2005 90
Sauvignon Blanc (1) Napa Valley 2001 88
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2004 88
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2006 89
Zinfandel Napa Valley 1999 87
Zinfandel Napa Valley 2002 88
Zinfandel Napa Valley 2003 87
Zinfandel St. Helena, Napa Valley 2005 90
Zinfandel Port Napa Valley N.V. 90

(1) This white wine won the "Sweepstakes" Best White Wine award in the 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
  • Our preference for "best value for money" among the white wines is the Sauvignon Blanc 2004, priced at a modest $16.00, and with our rating of 88.
  • For the best red wine tasted our choice goes to the Cabernet-Sauvignon, Vintage Selection, of 2002, with our rating of 91 and priced at $51.00.
  • Our second preference among the red wines tasted went to the Zinfandel Port, Napa Valley, which is priced at $27 and which we rated 90. We mention this Port each time because we invariably buy one to take home. Consider doing the same.
  • There is a 10% discount for case purchases.


  • Our preference for a white wine goes to the Chardonnay, Family Reserve, 2001. It is priced at $24, and received our rating of 90.
  • Our choice of the best red wine tasted in 2003 was the Meritage, Family Reserve, Napa Valley, 1999, which is priced at $34 and we rated 90.
  • Our second preference among the red wines tasted went to the Zinfandel Port, Napa Valley, which is priced at $27 and which we rated 90.
  • Our "Best value for money" choice goes to the Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2002, which is priced at $17 and which received our rating of 89.

There is a 10% discount for purchases of 6 to 11 bottles, and a 15% discount for purchases of 12 or more bottles.