Marc Mondavi Podcast 45 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

The Taste with Doug Shafer logo

Doug Shafer and Marc Mondavi

Marc Mondavi grew up at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena and learned the wine business from his father, Peter Mondavi. Marc tells wild stories of growing up in Napa Valley and talks of his optimism as a new generation joins the family enterprise.

For more info visit https://www.charleskrug.com/estate/people


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
So, hey, Doug Shafer here, back, uh, with another episode of The Taste. And, uh, with me is a, a good friend who I haven't seen in a while, so I'm glad he's here. Uh, Marc Mondavi ... Welcome Marc, good to see you.

Marc:
Thank you Doug. It's a pleasure.

Doug:
Yeah. And I was thinking about you this morning, or last night, knowing we were going to do this. And I was thinking, you know, I-I don't know if you remember that I, when I first met you, I got to know you really well, was working on the wine auction back in '85, '86, '87. Do you remember those days?

Marc:
That was the fun days of the wine auction. It's a little more serious today.

Doug:
It's very organized and very serious, but this is back, this is, this is the, uh, wine auction Napa Valley, which happens in June. Raises lots of money for local charities and, uh ... But back in the early days ... It's been going on 25 years at least I think.

Marc:
30 ...

Doug:
30.

Marc:
35.

Doug:
Yeah. And, um, but it was kind of a ragtag group of vintners and volunteers and farmers who had all just taken a couple weeks off and throw, throw this big party together. And I remember being on wine service with Bob Pepe and trying to stage wine and collect wine. And you were doing logistics, I think, with, uh ...

Marc:
Logistics, security and transportation.

Doug:
That's right, you did security. (Laughs)

Marc:
Yeah. Now it's, now it's three separate or four separate committees.
But remember security coming in the door was Howard from, uh ... Oh, it wasn't Tra Vigne, it was ... What was Tra Vigne before it was Tra Vigne?

Marc:
Oh, Howard, uh, uh ...

Doug:
The maitre'D ...

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Howard, he was piat-, no he with Don Giovanni forever ...

Marc:
Right.

Doug:
But he was the security, so he was out there by himself in a, in a chair, right? At the entrance to Meadowood, right? And if you didn't have a ticket he wouldn't let you in, which ... So people would just be (Laughs) be ... I heard people used to give him a six-pack of beer or bottle of wine, he'd say, "Just go on in." (Laughs)

Marc:
(Laughs)

Doug:
That was our security.

Marc:
It was fun. It was ... Quasi-organized and quasi-disorganized but believe it or not everything got done.

Doug:
I think it was amazing.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
But that's when I first got to know you.

Marc:
But we didn't make the money they do today.

Doug:
That's true. But we, but we had fun doing it.

Marc:
But we got them on the way.

Doug:
Yeah. So, going back I, I wanna ... If you don't mind, I'd love to get a quickie, because you were born here in Napa Valley ...

Marc:
Born and raised, St. Helena hospital.

Doug:
St. Helena hospital, but, but before you came along, you know, your family history ... Can you give me a quickie? You know, grandparents and the whole thing?

Marc:
Well, they immigrated from Italy to Minnesota, and they spent 1906 to 1922 ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
In Minnesota. And then got into the grape shipping business for home wine-making.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Which, back then was big, and believe it or not today it's still very big. You know, I mean, a lot of people like to make their ...

Doug:
Like their home wine ...

Marc:
Barrel of wine ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And it's legal to make 200 gallons for every head in their household.

Doug:
You, you got it.

Marc:
And, uh, still is. It was legal during prohibition. So that's how it got its start. Came to California and then recognized that Napa Valley was one of the great grape growing areas of California and ultimately came to Napa Valley and ...

Doug:
And that was ...

Marc:
Bought Charles Krug Winery.

Doug:
That was what, 1940, 40?

Marc:
1937 he bought what is now Sunny St. Helena.

Doug:
Which was, um ...

Marc:
It was, uh ...

Doug:
Right across from Gott's, is that it? No. It's ...

Marc:
Not Sunny St. Helena, it's, it's, uh, Merryvale.

Doug:
Merryvale.

Marc:
It was called Sunny St. Helena.

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
Yeah, right across from Gott's Roadside ...

Doug:
From Gott's Roadside. Just, just right in ...

Marc:
The old Taylor's ...

Doug:
Right in St. Helena, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Marc:
You know, back then it was Taylor's Refresher, but ...

Doug:
Right, remember, with Charlie Toogood ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
With the double bacon nut cheeseburger.

Marc:
That's right.

Doug:
Yeah, okay. (Laughs)

Marc:
Yep the Toogood family ...

Doug:
We're gonna start sounding like old guys if we keep this up. Anyway, um ...

Marc:
We're young old guys.

Doug:
Okay, so Marc, so you got brother Peter, now, and your dad was ...

Marc:
Peter Senior ...

Doug:
Peter Senior ...

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
And then his parents what were their names again?

Marc:
It was Cesare, which, if the per-, the spelling you would read it as Cesar.

Doug:
Cesar, right.

Marc:
But in Italian it's pronounced Cesare ...

Doug:
It's Cesare, okay.

Marc:
And Rosa.

Doug:
Rosa, of course. All right, good.

Doug:
Got it. Um, so Sunny St. Helena, so that was, that's that beautiful stone building right there on the, right there on the highway.

Marc:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
So they were there for a while.

Marc:
Yes, so there's some, there's some good stories ... Like friends of my parents used to tell me that they had hoses plugged into the tanks and they would go there from, you know, now we're talking, you know, I'm 63-years-old, so now we're talking, you know ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
75 years ago, 80 years ago.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
And they would go in and tap into the tanks at Sunny St. Helena and drain wine out so they could get a buzz on when they were in high school.

Doug:
The kid, the high school ...

Marc:
And these are stories that I've been told.

Doug:
The high school kids were doing it? So, so wait a minute ...

Marc:
Yeah ...

Doug:
So they're sneak, they're ...

Marc:
But these, these high school kids ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
Are the parents of my friends that grew up ...

Doug:
Your peers. So, they're sneaking in ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
They're just sneaking in and stealing wine out of the tank? (Laughs)

Marc:
Yeah, they knew how to do it, you know. But back then, you know, we didn't have all the security and stuff that ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
You know.

Doug:
So they get a buzz on and then go to school, to high school.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Two blocks away.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
Oh, there was cra-crazy stuff ...

Doug:
Oh, that's ...

Marc:
I mean, these guys, literally stole the train because it would park ...

Doug:
Yeah, the tracks are right there.

Marc:
Yeah, they would park on the tracks and they would, you know, the conductor and the employees would walk across the street and have a burger ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Before they went home, you know, left for Napa.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
And, uh ...

Doug:
They stole the train?

Marc:
They stole the trains. But you didn't get in trouble back then ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
You know, you got, you got your hand spanked and ...

Doug:
Right, called your parents.

Marc:
You know.

Doug:
Come get the ...

Marc:
Your parents got called and you know, everybody got chewed out and that was ...

Doug:
Oh ...

Marc:
That was the end of that story.

Doug:
They stole the train.

Marc:
They stole the train.

Doug:
It's so good to have you here. I'm loving this stuff. (Laughs)

Marc:
These are, these are great ... And then you have, you know, you were worried about, you know, drunk driving back then ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Still, I mean, even though it wasn't as regulated as it is today, and these, these are friends of mine parents said they used to deflate their tires and drive down the tracks.

Doug:
The got ...

Marc:
To stay off the highway.

Doug:
So they got (Laughs) they deflated their tires ...

Marc:
I never did that.

Doug:
Yeah, but we've done other things. But that's, uh, that's pretty cool. So, but, so when did they go from Sunny St. Helena Winery to what is now Charles Krug?

Marc:
They bought Sunny St. Helena in 1937 ...

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
And then my grandfather heard from his banker that Charles Krug was gonna go up for sale, so he contacted James Moffitt, who owned Charles Krug at the time.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
And struck a deal with Moffitt and bought Krug. And then by 1955 he sold, uh, Sunny St. Helena, focused his energy at Charles Krug.

Doug:
So he kept both wineries for a while.

Marc:
For a while.

Doug:
Yeah. Wow.

Marc:
I had, I have no idea where he got all the money, but, uh, you know, it was a whopping $75000 for the 143 acres back in 1943.

Doug:
$75000 for 143 acres.

Marc:
$75000. We can't even buy an acre for $70 (Laughs) ...

Doug:
You can't, you can't get (Laughs) you can't get a quarter of an acre.

Marc:
You can't.

Doug:
You can, um ... And was that the winery too?

Marc:
Yeah, that was the winery ...

Doug:
And a hund- ...

Marc:
Two homes ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
And 143 acres in the city limits.

Doug:
And one of the most, one of the most beautiful locations in the Valley. That, the yard you guys have at that ...

Marc:
It is.

Doug:
That's your ... For people who don't know, there's a wonderful yard at Charles Krug and they, they're so gracious. They let people have parties and fundraisers and it's just one of the most prettiest locations in the valley.

Marc:
Well this year we're hosting the barrel, the barrel portion of the Napa Valley Wine Auction, so ...

Doug:
That's right. And also, so, but you guys, you know, Shafer's been around since '73, you know, 30 years or so. 30 or 40 years, but you've got, you know, your guys are 75th anniversary this year.

Marc:
75th this year.

Doug:
Congratulations.

Marc:
Yeah, feels good. You know, I was very disappointed to read in the paper this morning that Heitz Wine Cellar sold ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
But, you know, I mean, I understand. Uh, time moves on. But, uh, you know, we've set it up so hopefully our kids stay in the wine business for ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Another generation or two.

Doug:
Yep, that's the hope. Um, but your dad, I didn't know your dad well but whenever I ch-chatted with him or saw him he was so gracious. And I was doing some research, I forgot how much experimentation in, on wine-making that he did.

Marc:
He did.

Doug:
He did some really cool stuff.

Marc:
He did.

Doug:
And I don't, and no one knows about it.

Marc:
No. In, in, uh, he went to Stanford, got his undergraduate degree at Stanford. UC Davis didn't have a program going back in '30, whatever it was, '38, '39 ...

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
But UC Berkeley had a, had a beer ...

Doug:
That's right, Berkeley had the ag sch- ...

Marc:
Wine ... Yeah.

Doug:
And the ag school too ...

Marc:
And an ag school ...

Doug:
Before Davis, okay.

Marc:
So when he, when he graduated from Stanford, he did some of his research at Berkeley. He didn't get his masters degree, but he took some classes and did, uh, quite a bit of research. Cold fermentation, which is now, it's been adapted worldwide.

Doug:
But, but ...

Marc:
Everybody who makes white wine ...

Doug:
But your grandparent, father wasn't doing that, right?

Marc:
No, he wasn't doing that. He was ...

Doug:
So here's your dad going to, going to Berkeley, taking the fermentation, beer-making wine thing, and coming up with this. The cold fer- ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Because that's, to those of you who don't I'm ... So it's, it ... Marc and I are, we're kind of like wine-maker guys ...

Marc:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And that's what we do (Laughs) ...

Marc:
Kind of.

Doug:
But the cold, the whole cold fermentation, uh, was revolutionary, because fermentation are hot and you, when they, they, you don't control the temp they blow off fruit, they blow off, uh, acid. Uh, some of these subtleties that make today's wine so good, you gotta ferment them cold. Especially the white wines and roses. But ... So your dad, he was the guy.

Marc:
And we, you know, and back then there wasn't a whole lot of technology, you know ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Refrigeration systems and all these sorts of things. So they, they did things like circulate cold water.

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
You know, cool water and, you know, if you had a well and the water came out at 52 degrees, whatever, you'd circulate through some jackets and, and that was the extent of your cooling. But ...

Doug:
It made it diff-

Marc:
It made all the difference in the world.

Doug:
It made a difference. Yeah.

Marc:
You know, versus a completely uncontrolled, uh, fermentation that could, you know, it could literally hit 95 plus degrees.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And burn itself out ...

Doug:
Burn itself out and ...

Marc:
And then you have a stuck ferment.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
You know, we all don't like those.

Doug:
(Laughs) We don't like those.

Marc:
Uh, and then white wines. Y-you know, that's why we make white wines ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
That have lots of fruit and, and, uh ...

Doug:
Oh, yeah.

Marc:
Lots of aromatics, 'cause before they were fermented hot like red wines and they just became a cooked ...

Doug:
Cooked, yeah.

Marc:
White wine with very little fruit notes.

Doug:
Yeah, just kind of, just alcohol.

Marc:
Yeah, so everybody, I don't care where you are in the world, everybody uses some sort of temperature control ...

Doug:
Something, yeah. Well even, you know, even with the reds ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Reds we ferment them hot for color and extraction but, like you said, you don't want them to get too hot ...

Marc:
But keep a lid on it.

Doug:
Yeah, you can, you can watch that ...

Marc:
For sure.

Doug:
Wow, so your dad ... And then French oak barrels.

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Was he the first one to bring them in?

Marc:
We, we were not the fir- ... He, he and my uncle Robert ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
Were using, experimenting with French oak barrels.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
Because they had not been used in any ... To my knowledge, anywhere in the US. And they liked them, but Hanzell over in Sonoma ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Small producer of chardonnay and pinot noir, still around.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Hanzell actually beat him to the punch.

Doug:
That, I did read that.

Marc:
Bringing them, bringing the first commercial, you know ...

Doug:
French oak barrels in ...

Marc:
French oak barrels.

Doug:
When was that? '50s, '60s? Oh man ...

Marc:
That was in the ...

Doug:
Probably ...

Marc:
Early '60s.

Doug:
Early '60s, yeah.

Marc:
And I can remember my father bitching because ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
He had to pay $40 for a French oak barrel. I'll let you Doug, Doug tell you the price today. (Laughs)

Doug:
The, the, today's price is, uh, easy $1100 a ...

Marc:
Easy.

Doug:
A barrel for French oak.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
$40 ...

Marc:
$40.

Doug:
Oh ...

Marc:
And I can remember he's going, "I don't know how we're gonna afford this. $40 a barrel."

Doug:
Oh.

Marc:
And w-, naturally, you know, wine was ... You know, you can buy a bottle of cabernet back then for $4 ...

Doug:
For $6, six, $4, $6, yeah.

Marc:
$6, you know so it's, it's relative.

Doug:
Yeah, oh man. And, uh, the other one I found was Carneros. He started growing grapes in Carneros back then.

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
No one grew grapes in ...

Marc:
There was, uh ...

Doug:
You know, Carneros didn't explode until ...

Marc:
Louis Martini had a property in Carneros, uh, in Napa and Rene Di Rosa Winery Lake ...

Doug:
Right, Winery Lake.

Marc:
He planted his vines a year before we planted ours. It was all dairies down there.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
We bought, you know, we bought a used ... Used ... A dairy ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Uh ...

Doug:
Pasture.

Marc:
From Joe Brown and by God Joe ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And I'm sure none of you out there will remember Joe, but everything was ...

Doug:
By God ...

Marc:
Phrase, "By God." And, uh ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
Anyway so, y-you look at Carneros today, whether it's Napa side or, or Sonoma side, there's only I think one dairy left ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Maybe two. It's all grapes.

Doug:
It's all grapes, yeah. It's changed.

Marc:
It has.

Doug:
Okay, so your dad, revolutionary as far as ... You know modern wine-making. Giving us better wines all the world, getting, you know, all the way getting us to the world stage. So you, you came on, you grew up and you were, you were born and raised on the property, right?

Marc:
Yeah, I was, yeah. I was born at St. Helena Hospital. And, I grew up, grew up in, we lived actually in town. My grandparents and my uncle ...

Doug:
Your grandparents lived right ...

Marc:
Lived on the winery property and then, uh, l-later on, you know, after my grandparents were, were deceased, uh, we moved to the winery.

Doug:
Yeah. So I gotta, so summer, you know, your, your life was going to school and then working in the vineyards, working in the winery. You're, you're a kid at the winery.

Marc:
I still, I still have, I haven't seen it for a few years, but I have my first pay stub ...

Doug:
Oh, yeah, weren't you ...

Marc:
$.25 an hour.

Doug:
$.25 an hour?

Marc:
Yeah, my dad was a slave driver. (Laughs)

Doug:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I know about that. (Laughs) I mean, personally.

Marc:
We all do.

Doug:
We all do. Um, but you, you had an official position at age 10. What were ...

Marc:
Well, I wouldn't call it official, but ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
(Laughs) I worked, uh, in summers from age 10 ... The first few years I packed gift packs.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
You know, we don't, we don't do Christmas gift packs anymore like ... But back in those days it was a big deal ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Christmas, you know, two bottle packs.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Two bottles and two wine glasses, or three bottles and a corkscrew, whatever.

Doug:
And ... Right.

Marc:
And, uh, so my brother and I would pack those all summer long so they were ready to go during, uh, during the holiday season.

Doug:
That's great. So, 'cause ... You're a year older than I am, and Pete's how much younger than you?

Marc:
Pete's three-and-a-half ...

Doug:
Yeah ...

Marc:
Almost exactly ...

Doug:
So he's younger, so I'm right between you guys.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
So I gotta ask you a question.

Marc:
Sure.

Doug:
This one's been ... Because I've heard rumors, and I don't know if it's true or not. I flashed on, I actually called my little brother this morning, because when we moved out from Chicago in 1973, and in Chicago we had this go kart. And it was this racing frame, we only had, like, a three-and-a-half horsepower on it, but it was fun as heck. And I guess we dragged it along, but I don't think it ever got brought out here. I think my little brother said he drove it around the driveway.
But I heard a story that my dad sold it to you guys, or sold it to your dad. Do you, do you remember anything about a go kart?

Marc:
He could have.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
My brother ...

Doug:
It was Pete, maybe it was Pete.

Marc:
Pete had a go kart, and ... But it had more than a three-and-a-half horse (Laughs) ...

Doug:
No that's, no that, that was it. So, that's what I heard, I heard that he bought it and then I heard it ...

Marc:
And he fixed ...

Doug:
He fixed it.

Marc:
He tweaked it. He's an engineer by training.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Marc:
And so he ...

Doug:
He put like a 25, I mean, he put a racing motor on it.

Marc:
He, he put a, it was about a 10-horse ...

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
Which was big, you know, at that time.

Doug:
For a go kart, yeah.

Marc:
Yeah, racing motor.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
It would do, it would do 65-miles-an-hour.

Doug:
56 ... And then the other thing, okay ... So that, that confirms that story. So here's the other one I heard. I heard that you guys used to drive that up to Calistoga, from St. Helena to Calistoga ...

Marc:
We did.

Doug:
In the middle of the night (Laughs) you did?

Marc:
We did. We drove it ... It was, uh, Christmas Eve, Christmas night ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
About 1:00 in the morning ...

Doug:
Oh ...

Marc:
Drove it from the winery through downtown s-, Calistoga, down the trail and back to the winery and never got caught.

Doug:
That's ... Ladies and gentlemen, Calistoga and St. Helena are 10 miles away ...

Marc:
(Laughs)

Doug:
So that's, uh, going through town and back, making the loop as we would call it, that's a good ...

Marc:
And it would wake up the dead, to boot.

Doug:
That's a 22, 23-mile trip, at 1:00 in the morning on Christmas night, and he didn't get caught. That's the beautiful old Napa Valley where there wasn't much going on at night.

Marc:
That was the good old days.

Doug:
I know. Um, oh good, you confirmed that for me. Thank you.

Marc:
Yeah, yup.

Doug:
It's good to know that. I was dying to ask you that one.
So you're growing up at the time you've got the big four wineries. You've got Charles Krug, BV Beaulieu, Inglenook and Martini ...

Marc:
Martini ...

Doug:
That was the big ones. And, uh, and you went to high school in St. Helena ...

Marc:
I went to ...

Doug:
No, it was Justin?

Marc:
I went to high school at Justin.

Doug:
Justin.

Marc:
My brother went to St. Helena High.

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
And you graduated in '68 so I was right behind you. I graduated in ... No you graduated in ...

Marc:
'72 ...

Doug:
'72, and I was moved out in '73 ...

Marc:
Okay.

Doug:
So I missed you and I missed Pete, so I was between you guys.

Marc:
So did you graduate from St. Helena High?

Doug:
Yes, I spent my last year and a half at St. Helena High.

Marc:
Your last year, okay.

Doug:
So I went from a school in Chicago with 2500 to St. Helena High ...

Marc:
St. Helena which is about ...

Doug:
With 500, 400 or 500.

Marc:
Four or 500.

Doug:
And then, uh, you were at Davis doing viticulture and oenology ...

Marc:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
Survived that.

Marc:
Did, and, and I was, you know, I consider myself blessed because I had all the great original professors: Olmo, Webb ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Amarine, um ...

Doug:
Cook, I had Cook.

Marc:
Cook.

Doug:
Cook was great.

Marc:
Cook, you know, all those guys. They're all, unfortunately they're all dead now, but ...

Doug:
[Lighter 00:20:42], Lighter was there.

Marc:
Yup ... Lloyd Lighter. Um, so I had all those people and, you know, they were the foundation of what Davis is today.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
They literally built that school up as far as oenology and viticulture.

Doug:
Oh, yeah, and they did the research and, you know ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Along with what was going on with the big wineries here and also the Gallos doing their own research on ... This was the ... Every day wine if you will.

Marc:
It was ...

Doug:
The quality, the quality of every day, day in and day out wine in this state was phenomenal.

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
It was great.

Marc:
And it, it's, you know, this, all this knowledge has spread itself to all the other states. You know, I remember Oregon in the early years, every bottle of Oregon wine you bought, more than half of them were not very good.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
You know, now you go up and buy Oregon and Washington wine, you can't find a bad bottle. You know ...

Doug:
I had a chardonnay from Virginia about three months ago while I was back there, it was delicious.

Marc:
Yeah, and in, you know, the experience has just spread and people know what they're ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Know what they're doing all over the place now.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). No it's great.

Marc:
Yeah it is.

Doug:
And we lived to see it, which is really cool.

Marc:
We did. We did.

Doug:
Because I remember when I first got into it, you know, we ... You know I, I hooked up with other guys who are wine makers and they said, hey, come to a tasting group. You're tasting group, you're tasting six or eight wines blind in a bag and it was really easy to rank them, because out of those eight wines two were horrible ...

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
These were local wines ... Two were pretty good, one was really good. And now you do that all eight wines, all eight wines are good.

Marc:
Yeah, it's hard to ...

Doug:
It's, it's hard to ...

Marc:
It's certainly, no question, you know, the consumer is the beneficiary of all this.

Doug:
You bet, you bet.

Marc:
Because you, it's, you just don't, you don't find bad wines anymore.

Doug:
Yeah, no you don't. No. So, at Davis, so, did you always know you were going into the grape and wine business? Because I ...

Marc:
No, act-

Doug:
I didn't know that, I reme- ...

Marc:
Actually when I was young I wanted to be a fireman. And, you know, that's ... I'm thinking I was probably in, you know, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
And I had this ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Fireman thing, you know, I think a lot of kids do. And, uh ... Then it was later on in high school that I decided, you know, after working summers in the wine-

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Winery, I kind of liked it. And our close friends in the Valley were all vintners, you know, the Martini family ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
The [Winnies 00:23:30] who were outside. Sebatianis and ... So our folks were always hanging around with them and ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
They drug us along and, you know, some of the things. And, uh, so then I switched my mind and said, well, this wine business isn't so bad. And, uh, the rest is history as they say.

Doug:
But fireman, did you ever join the St. Helena Volunteer Fire Department?

Marc:
I almost did, but it was ... My problem was, you, you know, you're a vintner and you're a grower as well ...

Doug:
Right. (Laughs)

Marc:
And you know, when frost seasons around, you're in frost season, so if the fire alarm goes off you can't, I mean ...

Doug:
You can't ...

Marc:
You know, so I, I was asked and courted to be a volunteer at St. Helena and I just said, you know what, I can't do both.

Doug:
Well, you're running a major winery, you've got a growing family ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
It's, it's tough. It's a tough ...

Marc:
Yeah, St. Helena's still volunteer today.

Doug:
I know, those guys are amazing.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
They're really good, too. Great guys. (Laughs) It's a lot of fun.

Marc:
Trust me, we've had so many false alarms at the winery (Laughs) ...

Doug:
Oh, yeah.

Marc:
Over the years.

Doug:
So you, you've ...

Marc:
I mean, you know, a short circuit here ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Somebody washes, you know ...

Doug:
Hits the thing, the smoke alarm goes off ...

Marc:
Hits it with, yeah, the alarm goes off, so, you know ...

Doug:
(Laughs) They're always there.

Marc:
We've gotta give them donations every year to keep them happy. (Laughs)

Doug:
You gotta give them a lot of wine, yeah. (Laughs) We all do that. Um, and ... Do me a favor and say hi to Janice when you see her. Your, your bride ...

Marc:
I certainly will.

Doug:
Who I adore.

Marc:
My better half.

Doug:
So where ... Oh ...

Marc:
For sure.

Doug:
She is, I would agree. Totally ... Um, where'd you guys meet?

Marc:
We met at a Young Farmers and Ranchers dinner here in St. Helena. And we dated for about two years, maybe a little over and got married.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
So we're ...

Doug:
Was, did she grow, did she grow up in Napa? I thought she grew up in Central Valley.

Marc:
She grew up in Yuba City.

Doug:
Yuba City, right.

Marc:
Yeah, Central Valley. So, you know, we're celebrating our 37th anniversary this May.

Doug:
Wow. Congrats.

Marc:
Yeah, one month from now, May 23rd.

Doug:
How'd you do it? What's the secret?

Marc:
You just gotta marry the right lady.

Doug:
Hm.

Marc:
I mean, gotta call it, part of it's luck.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
For sure.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And, uh, you know, we just got along.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
We, we do a lot of things together, and, you know I taught her to fly fish, now she's a fly fishing addict.

Doug:
She, uh, the thing I love about her is she just, she just gives it, she always gives it to you straight.

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
Even if it's not going to be what you want to hear, because I've asked her a couple times on a couple things ...

Marc:
(Laughs)

Doug:
She goes, well, no, you know ... She's very polite but it, but it, when it comes down to it, it's like, "Well, Doug you know ..." And then boom. And it's like, I walk away going wow, that was kind of, you know, direct but, but you know, she's right.

Marc:
She doesn't beat around the bush.

Doug:
Oh, no.

Marc:
You know, you, you kind of end up knowing where you stand. (Laughs)

Doug:
Oh, definitely, definitely. (Laughs) Yeah. And the two of you ...

Marc:
I only get in the doghouse once or twice a year.

Doug:
Oh, you ... Yeah, yeah, of course you do.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
I know you do, yeah.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
You know, we see each other on the street. (Laughs) And together you've got these four beautiful daughters.

Marc:
I do. We do.

Doug:
You, you guys are super lucky.

Marc:
Yeah, 20, 25 to 35.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
And they're all living in Napa Valley.

Marc:
All but one.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
Well, actually, uh, daughter number three works for the company and she lives, we moved her to Dallas, Texas a year ago.

Doug:
Is that Alicia?

Marc:
That's, uh, Rihanna.

Doug:
Rihanna, okay.

Marc:
Angelina, daughter one, Alicia, daughter two, live here in the Napa Valley. Youngest one is not in the industry at this juncture. She works for MFS, Massachusetts Financial Services out of Boston.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
She loves her job and, you know, I said, hey, if you like it stay there, work it. When you get tired of it ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
There's always the opportunity to come back and work in the industry.

Doug:
That's great.

Marc:
So she's ... We keep her in the loop as to what's going on at the winery.

Doug:
Sure.

Marc:
But she's not in it day to day.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Type environment.

Doug:
But she's doing what she likes. I've got, I've got three big kids that are all in their, around 30 ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
And they're all doing separate things, not wine-related ...

Marc:
You just gotta let them, you gotta let them do what they want to do.

Doug:
Doing what they like to do.

Marc:
You know, and we, we were lucky that three of our girls wanted to come in the business ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
In, in different arenas, and ...

Doug:
That's great.

Marc:
You know, so ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
It's, we're lucky.

Doug:
I was just down to, visiting USD, University of San Diego with my son last week ...

Marc:
One daughter went there.

Doug:
And we were accompanied by one of my daughters, Katie, who went there with Alicia ...

Marc:
Yeah, okay.

Doug:
They went together. And, uh, it was fun 'cause Katie, my daughter went with us to show it to, uh, my other son who's looking at colleges, so ...

Marc:
The ins and outs.

Doug:
It was fun walking around there ... And Katie, who's now 30 plus was, you know, it's like a ... Oh, in fact the dorm room they showed us was like two doors down from her first dorm room ...

Marc:
Is that right?

Doug:
So she's in the hallway going, "Oh, this is too weird for me." So it was fun.

Marc:
Well, my daughter finally did admit, she goes, "I would have had a higher GPA if I went to another college." (Laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs) That's what college is all about.

Marc:
Too close to Pacific Beach.

Doug:
Oh, I know, yeah. We went down there. Tate liked that. Um, hey, but here's a whole 'nother thing. I forgot about this but once I checked it out I remembered ... Um, Laurie Wood, who is a great ...

Marc:
Yeah, great, great ...

Doug:
Long time grape grower in this valley ...

Marc:
Grape grower ...

Doug:
What a wonderful guy. Was a very well-known and respected water witcher.

Marc:
Water dowser, yes.

Doug:
Dowser, water dowser. And he helped us find a couple of wells on this property back in the 70s. And he was your mentor, teacher, because you are now our successful water dowser.

Marc:
Yeah, I'm kind of the heir apparent.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Nobody was, nobody was around here, uh, to take over when, when Laurie passed away. And I ... He taught me everything I know. And I just said as long as you're around and doing it I'm not going to compete with you.

Doug:
Hm.

Marc:
And, so I would only do it for family and friends.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And, uh, when Laurie passed away, you know, many of the well drillers knew that I could do it because I'd worked with Laurie for quite a while off and on. And, uh ... So yeah, I do it. I'm doing maybe one a week, one every other week.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
Still.

Doug:
Is it ...

Marc:
You know, it depends. I thought after last year's rainy year ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
It would kind of dissipate a little bit, and it did at the beginning of spring. But by the time midsummer came around people just started calling. Now I'm, I'm doing like I said, one a week ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
One every other week.

Doug:
Is ... I, I've seen you guys do it. I remember watching Laurie do it. I think I saw you do it one place sometime years ago. But it's like you got your rods and you're walking through the field or the, wherever you are, and all the sudden they start moving around. I'm thinking oh, come one, he's, he's doing it. I mean ...

Marc:
There's no science, all right.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
It's, if you talk to scientists they say it's all hokey pokey. And, uh, alls I gotta tell you is Laurie and I together went against a geology company ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
And the owner of the property said, "I'm gonna drill two wells. I'm gonna drill where you guys say and I'm gonna drill where the geology company says." And, uh, by the way, the geology company charged about 20 times what Laurie charged.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
Uh, anyway the bottom line is, they drilled cased and, uh, Laurie and I beat the geologists by double.

Doug:
Well, and ...

Marc:
With the volume of water.

Doug:
What I remember about Laurie, he used to, you know, he would say there's water there, there's water here, it's three to 400 feet ...

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
It's gonna be 60 gallons a minute, but, you know, maybe 40, but you're not gonna get that 100 gallons. I mean it was like ...

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
You gotta be kidding me.

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Yeah, it's ...

Doug:
Oh.

Marc:
I don't know, it's ... You can't explain it. And, like I said, most scientists think it's hokey pokey and you're just lucky.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Uh, but in my lifetime of doing this I've gone against four geologists and I've beat all four of them.

Doug:
(Laughs) You're not competitive are you?

Marc:
Oh, a little bit.

Doug:
But, so, Laurie taught you, you were his apprentice if you will.

Marc:
Correct.

Doug:
He's passed on, you're, you're doing it, you're beating out the geology companies, um ... How about, is there gonna be, is there someone in the wings, or can you teach me?

Marc:
Yeah, my oldest daughter ... Well it's, you can't teach it.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
You either have the ability or you don't. If you have the ability ...

Doug:
Huh.

Marc:
Then I can teach you, but if you don't have it ...

Doug:
Nothing.

Marc:
I can try and teach you everything in the world and you're never gonna get it.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
It, it's an energy.

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
Um, I, I don't know but I equate it ... Many of you are probably familiar with an Ouija board.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
Some people can run then and some can't, and I think it's a similar energy. So you either have it or you don't, and ...

Doug:
So your oldest daughter, it's Rihanna ...

Marc:
She ... Angelina.

Doug:
Angelina, pardon me.

Marc:
Yeah, she has it. Uh, three out of my four daughters have some ability. Angelina has the best. And she does it, since she's here in the Valley and is a wine-maker she's doing it ...

Doug:
Cool.

Marc:
You know, not professionally, uh ...

Doug:
But, uh ...

Marc:
She has to find, she bought a house last year ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
It appears she has, her septic systems is over ... So she's gotta, she doesn't know where the septic tank is. I said, "Well, get your rods out. You can find it a septic tank."

Doug:
(Laughs) Did, did she find it?

Marc:
I don't know she just called me this morning so (Laughs) ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
I'll go over tonight and, you know, bring my rods and we'll, we'll ... But we'll find the tank, that's ...

Doug:
That's great, a father ...

Marc:
That's a guarantee.

Doug:
And father daughter dowsing together, I like this, it's great.

Marc:
Yeah, yeah. But she's, she's, uh, dowsed for, uh, Sherry Stagland ...

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
You know, they had a water leak and ...

Doug:
Ah ...

Marc:
Couldn't find it and she was able to ...

Doug:
Wow. That's cool.

Marc:
To find it. She found also found a well that they didn't know was there, it was all covered up and ...

Doug:
It was there ...

Marc:
Abandoned.

Doug:
Drilled and everything, cased and the whole thing.

Marc:
Yeah, and ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
They had no idea it was there, and it was probably ...

Doug:
Oh.

Marc:
Drilled, you know ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
30s, or something.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And it was covered up and abandoned and nobody knew it was there.

Doug:
That's wild. That's wild.

Marc:
So, yeah.

Doug:
So I've spent most of my life in a family business. You've spent all your life in a family business. What's the secret to success? What makes it work?

Marc:
Communication.

Doug:
Yeah. Yeah, you're right.

Marc:
Absolute.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
That's the bottom line, okay. If you can communicate with your siblings and family well it will more than likely work. If, if not ... And you know, we don't always agree.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
But you gotta talk it through and, and if you, if you can communicate and stay open-minded it'll work.

Doug:
I think you're right. If that, is that the ...

Marc:
If you're, if you're stubborn and dig your heels ...

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Marc:
And you, you know, refuse to listen, refuse to compromise that's when things kind of get tough.

Doug:
The, the tri-, the trick I find ... And it's tough because we're all really passionate about what we do, and we have strong feelings about what we want to do.

Marc:
We do.

Doug:
And, you know, we do, and, um ... I have to fight this, and if I can just take a breath and say, and put myself in that person's shoes at that table or whatever the conversation ... And try to imagine what's going on in his or her mind, and what they value, and just try to appreciate that, even if I don't necessarily agree, it helps. Helps a lot. But boy, that, it's tough to do sometimes.

Marc:
I hate to say it, but in this industry, we tend to have egos.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And so you need to, you know ...

Doug:
Park it, check it at the door.

Marc:
You need to try and, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
You need to kind of subdue it. Uh, but for sure this industry is not without ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
High egos.

Doug:
I've got a good one my dad taught me. Especially when the, the tough calls come. And this was, and it works every time. It's not easy, but you ask yourself the question: What's the best thing for the business.

Marc:
Yup.

Doug:
And if you're honest with it, you know, you might not like what the decision has to be, but it's like, wow, it's right there.

Marc:
True.

Doug:
But that's a tough one.

Marc:
True.

Doug:
Ah ...

Marc:
But it's a good business. You know, I've been involved in a corporate structure years ago and ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
There's pluses and minuses to the corporate structure ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
But there's, and there's pluses and minuses to the, to the family business. But I think net, net you can make the family business work it's better.

Doug:
Yeah. Well it's fun too.

Marc:
It is.

Doug:
It's a lot of fun. Tell me, tell me about Charles Krug, C Mon-Mondavi and Family is the company. You've got lots of different brands. Give, give me, give me a kind of synopsis of all of ...

Marc:
Yeah, we have a few brands.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
I mean, you know, Charles Krug is, is the oldest existing winery in Napa Valley. It started in 1861.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
So the brand has, has been around except for prohibition.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
Uh, they shut down, but the brand's been around for a long, long time. And then, uh, my grandfather who got into this business through the shipping business ... It's kind of interesting, when you buy grapes ... And it's true today ... When you buy grapes for shipping, you take possession, you own the grapes in the vineyard. When you buy grapes for wine-making, you take possession when it crosses your scale.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
So if the guy crashes his truck before it gets to your scale ...

Doug:
I'm off the hook.

Marc:
It's the grower's responsibility.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
But it, it's different in, in, uh, grape shipping business. You literally negotiate with the grower and you, you bargain as to how many tons you think is in that field.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
You strike a price and once you do that, you take possession of the grapes. You as a packer pick the grapes, pack them ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). .

Marc:
And market them. Well, in 1946, uh, my grandfather had bought all these grapes ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
That were still on the vine and a big, big rainstorm came in ...

Doug:
Oh.

Marc:
And the fruit began decomposing, you know ...

Doug:
Right ... Yeah, rotten. Right.

Marc:
It began, you know, rotting. I mean, we face it fortunately not all the time ...

Doug:
Once, once in a while.

Marc:
Once in a while.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And so he had a choice: Either I crush it now and make it into wine, 'cause it'll never ship across country.

Doug:
There's no way.

Marc:
It'll be, it'll be a ...

Doug:
Right, it'll be a mush.

Marc:
It'll be mush.

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
And, uh, so that's when he started CK Mondavi in 1946, and that's the big label, you know. I mean, we do 1400000 cases ...

Doug:
So that's what, we didn't touch on that earlier. So that's what got him into the wine business.

Marc:
That's, that's one of the main reasons that he got into the wine bus-

Doug:
A frigging rain storm at harvest (Laughs) that we all know about it ...

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
But it saved him.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Marc:
I mean it, if it wasn't for him making that decision and doing it, w-we very likely would not be here today.

Doug:
Wow.

Marc:
He would have, you know, gone broke.

Doug:
Yeah. Wow ... So CK, that's, that's the big, that's the majority of the wine.

Marc:
That's the big one, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah. And then you've got ...

Marc:
And we started ...

Doug:
Charles Krug ... Or you ...

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
And we started, we have CR Cellars, which is a generic that's ...

Doug:
Okay.

Marc:
It's almost, I mean, it's a small part ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
And then, uh, Purple Heart, we partnered with Purple Heart Foundations so a certain percentage of proceeds ...

Doug:
That's great.

Marc:
Goes to the Purple Heart Organization.

Doug:
That's really cool.

Marc:
Yeah, we're, my father was in World War II in the Air Force. Fortunately he was not in the real fighting part, he was in supplies.

Doug:
Uh huh (affirmative).

Marc:
But, uh, we partnered with Purple Heart Foundation and Intrepid Fallen Heroes is, is another. And we've been with Intrepid Fallen Heroes now, uh, six, six years.

Doug:
Nice.

Marc:
Maybe seven, coming up on seven. And so Intrepid Fallen Heroes specializing in, in the mind. Mental, you know ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), mental health.

Marc:
You know dis-, post traumatic stress disorder ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc:
Could be physically wounded, you know ...

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
In the head, uh, but dealing with mind disorders. And so we support th-that as well as, uh ...

Doug:
Nice.

Marc:
Purple Heart.

Doug:
Great.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
And you've got a gig going on up in Oregon, speaking of ... We were talking about Oregon. You've got a, another label up there?

Marc:
No, no, no.

Doug:
Divining Rod?

Marc:
We've ...

Doug:
No, that's not working.

Marc:
We did a pinot noir up there ...

Doug:
Got it, okay ...

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
So that's not ...

Marc:
It's a label down there, but ...

Doug:
Got it.

Marc:
But, uh, we did a pinot noir out of Willamette Valley.

Doug:
Yeah, I've always, every once in a while someone says, hey, you want to go up to Oregon or you want to go down here, or you want to go over there. And I'm thinking ... You know, we have enough challenge just tracking our few hundred acres here, you know ...

Marc:
Well ...

Doug:
All within 20, 30 minutes and it's ...

Marc:
Same thing ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
30, 25, 30 years ago I was asked to go up to Oregon and a gentleman owned a beautiful, beautiful ... And it ... Perfect exposure. Couple hundred acres. And he said, "I'll donate the property if you build the winery and, and manage it."

Doug:
Right.

Marc:
So I went up there ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Marc:
Four times in one summer, and every time I went up there it rained.

Doug:
(Laughs) Yeah.

Marc:
And I said, you know what, this is, this is going to be too tough going. You know, I said, maybe you should just keep your money and I'll keep my money. (Laughs)

Doug:
That's ...

Marc:
I mean, Oregon, you know, it ...

Doug:
It's ...

Marc:
They're doing a good job. But ... When they have a tough year it's, it's ...

Doug:
It's tough.

Marc:
It's difficult.

Doug:
It is.

Marc:
It's difficult.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
We're blessed in California. We have ...

Doug:
We're ...

Marc:
You know, we're all sunshine for the most part.

Doug:
Yeah. We're really fortunate ...

Marc:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
We're lucky being here.

Marc:
And you know, they ... I was running around looking at all the different vineyards and talking to all these guys behind the scenes and you know, they don't get that much tonnage. So you still spend the money farming it ...

Doug:
And you only get ...

Marc:
You don't get, you get a couple ...

Doug:
Two or three ...

Marc:
Maybe three tons to the acre.

Doug:
Especially if you gotta get it ripe and it's a cool year, yeah.

Marc:
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, you look at all these things and then you throw in the fact that, you know, every three years you get a rainy year.

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
And, uh, so I just got cold feet.

Doug:
I'm with you. I, I don't blame you.

Marc:
Yeah, we got, uh, we got plenty of fish to fry here in Napa Valley.

Doug:
Yeah. Yeah, that's the other thing. I'm, I'm, I'm pretty busy (Laughs) like all the time.

Marc:
Yeah. For sure.

Doug:
Yeah. Well, good. And then the other big thing going on with you and your family is, um ... Not only your kids but Peter's kids, your, your brother Peter's kids, and, uh, you guys call it G4.

Marc:
G4, fourth generation.

Doug:
Which is so cool, fourth generation.

Marc:
And, uh ...

Doug:
I love, I love that.

Marc:
Yeah, and we, you know, we're not ... Neither Pete nor myself are forcing our kids or pushing hard. Uh, but they're more than welcome and invited to become a part of the family business. So, you know, we know they're probably not all of them will, but hopefully half of them, you know ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Become a part of the family business and, you know ... I mean, I'm not going to be here forever, so I want ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Marc:
Somebody from G4 to take over.

Doug:
To, to step up, yeah.

Marc:
Yeah.

Doug:
Well I think, you know, between the six of them, I think there's six total, right?

Marc:
Six total.

Doug:
Yeah, I think your, your odds are pretty good.

Marc:
Pretty good, yeah.

Doug:
Good. Well listen my friend, um, again, happy, happy anniversary. 75 years, and actually a lot more I think ...

Marc:
Thank you, yeah.

Doug:
But, uh, congratulations.

Marc:
Yeah, thank you Doug.

Doug:
And thanks for coming by, great seeing you.

Marc:
You bet, it's a pleasure.

Doug:
All right, be good. See you.