Remembering Robert Mondavi

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Napa Valley Visionary

A legend. A visionary. An icon. Three words that describe perhaps the most influential figure to ever grace the wine world. Robert Mondavi would’ve turned 98 this June. In true Mondavi fashion, there are celebrations all month long with food, art, and a worldwide commemorative toast at his namesake winery and on Facebook.

No person other than Robert Mondavi has been more closely associated with California’s wine revolution. Likely because he pioneered it. Considered by many to be the father of modern American winemaking and the creator of America’s wine culture, Mondavi set an industry standard that has yet to be surpassed. To this day, no other winery in California can claim almost four decades of 90+ scores for its Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, with the 2006 and 2007 vintages receiving 96 and 95 points respectively.

Seizing upon Napa Valley’s unrecognized potential, Mondavi built his winery in 1966. The landscape of California’s wine industry was yet unformed and with an unwavering vision to craft wines that could rival Europe’s finest, Mondavi began carving a path that would inspire generations of winemakers to reach heights no one thought possible. A decade later at the Judgment of Paris, Mondavi’s belief was validated as the world’s attention turned to the Napa Valley and America’s wine culture emerged.

Deeply rooted in Italian tradition, Mondavi regarded the sharing of good food and wine with family and friends as one of life’s greatest pleasures. This appreciation remains evident today as thousands of visitors continue to walk through Robert Mondavi Winery’s open arch each year, sharing in Mondavi’s winemaking passion and embracing his “gracious lifestyle” philosophy.

Mondavi is remembered most for his generous spirit. Instead of keeping winemaking secrets, he told everyone how he thought wine should be made. If you needed a truck, he’d lend you one. Grapes? No problem. He’d even press them for you. Mondavi was there for every vintner who wanted to do something in the Napa Valley, believing that the more good wines that came out of the area, the better it would be for everyone. His generosity also extended far past the confines of the wine business. The Robert Mondavi Winery has hosted an annual concert series for more than 40 years, donating proceeds to charitable organizations, local music education and event-related charities.

With such a rich history of innovation and generosity, it’s understandable why Robert Mondavi Winery takes time each June to reflect upon Mondavi’s extraordinary accomplishments. In addition to the month-long celebration, this year on Friday, June 17, Margrit Mondavi along with Director of Winemaking and Wine Enthusiast’s 2010 Winemaker of the Year, Genevieve Janssens, will salute the 98th anniversary of Mondavi’s birth by hosting a toast at 2 p.m. PDT. Those who can’t attend are invited to be a part of the live event at

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