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Every other Tuesday the Napa Valley Register’s Business Focus features “Building Business,” highlighting local building or construction projects. Readers are encouraged to suggest projects to be profiled.


Charles Krug Redwood Cellar and Carriage House renovation


2800 St. Helena Highway

In 1861, on the Charles Krug estate just north of St. Helena, a part of the California wine industry was born. Today, the two original buildings that once comprised Napa Valley’s first winery are the focus of a $4 million restoration effort by the Peter Mondavi Family.

Building history

Charles Krug, the Prussian immigrant who became the first commercial vintner in Napa Valley, built his first winery structure in 1861. Damaged by fire in 1874, the building has been expanded and modified as uses have changed over the years, ultimately earning the name Redwood Cellar when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, who purchased the Krug estate in 1943, installed a series of redwood tanks to ferment their wine. The Carriage House was built by Charles Krug in 1881 and has remained largely unchanged since then.

“When my parents bought the property, these buildings were the heart of the winery,” recalls Peter Mondavi, 92, who is still active at the winery.

“We never thought of them as show pieces, but as places where the work of making wine was done.”

“This winery is more than a business for our family, it has been a way of life more than 60 years,” said Peter Mondavi, Jr., co-proprietor with his brother, Marc, of Charles Krug Winery.

“My brother and I are the third generation of our family to run the estate, and we feel an obligation to serve as stewards and continue the family wine making tradition for the generations to come.”

When the restoration and seismic strengthening project is completed in spring of 2008, the Peter Mondavi family will return a portion of the Redwood Cellar to its original use, as a barrel aging room.

The Carriage House, which opens onto an expansive lawn where for more than 50 years the winery has staged summertime “Tastings on the Lawn,” will continue to host such events.

Building design and architecture

To ensure that restoration of the Redwood Cellar and Carriage House are true to the original designs, the Peter Mondavi family hired Architectural Resource Group of San Francisco to oversee the project. According to ARG’s Naomi Imbroglio, principal architect, the design will “retain the original features, as well as those added by Cesare Mondavi when he acquired and refurbished the buildings in the 1940s.”

For example, rather than replace the original wood shingle roof constructed by Charles Krug, the new roof will closely resemble the metal roof installed more than 50 years ago.

 Before drawing plans for the restoration, ARG performed extensive research on the history of these buildings. Not only did other now-famous vintners learn their craft in those buildings, but many of the innovations that shaped the California wine industry were developed there, starting with Charles Krug himself, who adapted a cider press for crushing grapes and introduced a new production technique at the very inception of the California wine industry.

“It’s unusual that a family-owned business would undertake such a major investment in historical restoration,” said Imbroglio, “and for that the Peter Mondavi family should be commended. These buildings are true landmarks, and their preservation is important to the local community and the entire California wine industry.”


Part of the project includes seismic strengthening of both registered landmarks. Degenkolb Engineering of San Francisco, which is providing earthquake structural expertise in the Charles Krug renovation project, specializes in retrofitting and renovating historical masonry buildings and has worked on numerous San Francisco Bay Area projects.


To maintain historical consistency, Andrews & Thornley of Napa will bring in stone masons to repair the original stone walls, and will recycle the wood from the original, 20-foot-tall redwood fermenting tanks to repair the ceiling in the adjacent Carriage House.

The project is documented in a series of photographs to be posted on the Charles Krug Web site, The public is invited to log on to the Web site to see the restoration project unfold, or to visit the winery’s public tasting room, adjacent to the Redwood Cellar.

Project manager

Jim Reed, P. Mondavi & Sons

Square Feet

Redwood Cellars: two stories total 46,000 square feet.

Carriage House: 13,000 square feet.


Peter Mondavi, Marc Mondavi, and Peter Mondavi, Jr.

If you know of a building or construction project to be featured in “Building Business” please e-mail Jennifer Huffman at

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