A little more than a century ago, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi left Italy and headed for a place far from home, in distance and climate: Minnesota's Iron Range. Their grandson -- Peter Mondavi Jr., co-proprietor of the family's Charles Krug winery --shared some subsequent history during a Twin Cities visit this week:
"They left Ellis Island with about $20 in December 1908 and went straight to Virginia, Minn. There was some pioneering contingent of Italians there. Why, I don't know [chuckles].
"During Prohibition, the Italians were missing their wine. It wasn't a luxury, just an everyday beverage. The community rallied around my grandfather to go out to California and buy grapes. So he did that every year and even shipped some of them to illinois and other places."
"The Prohibition laws allowed 'the man of the house' to make 200 gallons of wine a year. Grandma ran a boarding house for miners. And her argument was that she had 16 'men of the house.' "
"My grandfather was a very, very smart individual."
Sounds like Rosa (below) could hang right with Cesare in the smarts department.