Napa Valley was once known for its cheap wines. Today it's one of the best wine regions in the world—due in part to Peter Mondavi. The wine pioneer who helped put California wines on the map died at his home in St. Helena on Saturday, says a family rep. He was 101. During more than half a century running Charles Krug Winery—which his Italian-immigrant parents bought in 1943—Mondavi adopted sterile filtration, the use of cold fermentation for white wines, and was the first in Napa to import French oak barrels for aging, earning him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Napa Valley Vintners trade group, report the AP and Los Angeles Times. He is also in the Culinary Institute of America's Vintners Hall of Fame.
Mondavi's reign as president and CEO of Charles Krug Winery wasn't without controversy. For a time, Mondavi ran the winery with his brother, Robert. After a fistfight in 1965, however, Robert was removed from management and went on to create his own Robert Mondavi Winery, reports the Wall Street Journal. Like many Napa wineries, the Robert Mondavi Winery was eventually bought out, but Peter Mondavi was proud to say that the Charles Krug Winery remained within the family. It's now run by his two sons, though Mondavi retained the titles of president and CEO until last year. He said his energy into old age was thanks to good genes, hard work, pasta Bolognese, and a glass of cabernet sauvignon each day. (Read more obituary stories.)