Robert Mondavi

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Robert Mondavi
Robert Mondavi with Wife.jpg
Robert Mondavi and his wife Margrit
BornJune 18, 1913
DiedMay 16, 2008 (aged 94)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationWinemaker
Philanthropist
Known forWinemaker
Spouse(s)Marjorie Declusin (1937–79)
Margrit Biever (1980-2008)
Children3
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Italian Republic (2002),
French Legion of Honour (2005)
California Hall of Fame (2005)
The entrance of Robert Mondavi Winery. Robert Mondavi entrance closeup.jpg
The entrance of Robert Mondavi Winery.

Robert Gerald Mondavi (June 18, 1913 – May 16, 2008 [1] ) was a leading American vineyard operator whose technical improvements and marketing strategies brought worldwide recognition for the wines of the Napa Valley in California. From an early period, Mondavi aggressively promoted labeling wines varietally rather than generically. This is now the standard for New World wines. The Robert Mondavi Institute (RMI) for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis opened in October 2008 in his honor. [2]

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 18 megadiverse countries.

Vineyard plantation of grape-bearing vines

A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture.

California wine Wine from California

California wine is wine made in the U.S. state of California. Almost three quarters the size of France, California accounts for nearly 90 percent of American wine production. The production of wine in California is one third larger than that of Australia. If California were a separate country, it would be the world's fourth largest wine producer.

Contents

Family history

Robert Mondavi's parents Cesare Mondavi and Rosa Grassi emigrated from Sassoferrato [3] in the Marche region of Italy and settled in the American city of Hibbing, Minnesota. Robert Gerald Mondavi was born in Virginia, Minnesota. From Minnesota the Mondavi family moved to Lodi, California, where he attended Lodi High School. In Lodi, his father, Cesare, established a successful fruit packing business under the name C. Mondavi and Sons, packing and shipping grapes to the east coast primarily for home winemaking. Mondavi graduated from Stanford University in 1937 with a degree in economics and business administration. While at Stanford he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

Sassoferrato Comune in Marche, Italy

Sassoferrato is a town and comune of the province of Ancona in the Marche region of central-eastern Italy.

Marche Region of Italy

Marche, or the Marches, is one of the twenty regions of Italy. The name of the region derives from the plural name of marca, originally referring to the medieval March of Ancona and nearby marches of Camerino and Fermo. Marche is well known for its shoemaking tradition, with the finest and most luxurious Italian footwear being manufactured in this region.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

In 1943, Mondavi joined his father and brother Peter after the family acquired the Charles Krug Winery located in St. Helena, California from James Moffitt. In 1965, Robert Mondavi left the family winery after a feud with his younger brother Peter over the business direction of the Krug Winery. Subsequently, Mondavi started his own winery in Oakville, California, and set out to create wines that could compete with fine French wines [4] Today, the Robert Mondavi Winery is located between Oakville and Rutherford (though its corporate headquarters are in nearby St. Helena).

Peter Mondavi, Sr. was an American winemaker.

Charles Krug American winemaker

Charles Krug (1825–1892) was among the pioneers of winemaking in the Napa Valley, California, and was the founder of the Charles Krug Winery.

St. Helena, California City in California in the United States

St. Helena is a city in Napa County, in California's Wine Country, part of the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 5,814 at the 2010 census.

In 1966, he founded the Robert Mondavi Winery with his sons Michael and Tim Mondavi in the Napa Valley with the goal of producing wines that would compete with the finest wines from Europe. Michael Mondavi, the eldest, was in charge of the sales and marketing for Robert, while Tim was the winemaker. Robert Mondavi was the first major winery built in Napa Valley in the post-Prohibition era. Part of Mondavi's original vineyard land included the To Kalon (a Greek term meaning "the beautiful") vineyard originally established by Napa Valley pioneer H.W. Crabb in 1868. The winery bearing Mondavi's name produced high quality wine in the California mission style.

Family

In 1937, Mondavi married his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Ellen (Declusin) Mondavi. Together, the couple had three children, Michael, Marcia, and Tim. In the late 1970s their marriage ended in a divorce. In 1980, at the age of 67, he married Margrit (Kellenberger) Biever Mondavi, a Swiss-born, and multilingual woman who worked at the Robert Mondavi winery. [5] Robert and Margrit had no children, but together they dedicated a lot of time and money to philanthropic events.

Margrit Mondavi American activist

Margrit Biever Mondavi (August 2, 1925 – September 2, 2016) was a Swiss-born American businesswoman. She was Vice President of Cultural Affairs at Robert Mondavi Winery which she joined in 1967. Under her direction, Robert Mondavi Winery developed original cultural and culinary arts programs. In 1980, she married Robert Mondavi and worked with him in many of his philanthropic activities including the founding of the museum Copia. Margrit played a key role in securing the downtown Napa location for the center, which opened in November 2001. She died of stomach cancer on September 2, 2016.

Wine history

A wine from the Robert Mondavi Winery, a Napa Valley Chardonnay. Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005.jpg
A wine from the Robert Mondavi Winery, a Napa Valley Chardonnay.

In 1968, Mondavi made a dry oak–aged Sauvignon blanc, an unpopular variety in California at the time, and labeled it "Fumé Blanc". The wine was a success and, in time, Fumé Blanc became accepted as a synonym for Sauvignon blanc.

Sauvignon blanc green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France

Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. It is possibly a descendant of Savagnin. Sauvignon blanc is planted in many of the world's wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the states of Washington and California in the US. Some New World Sauvignon blancs, particularly from California, may also be called "Fumé Blanc", a marketing term coined by Robert Mondavi in reference to Pouilly-Fumé.

Mondavi successfully developed a number of premium wines that earned the respect of connoisseurs and vintners alike. In 1979, he built the Mondavi Woodbridge Winery in Lodi, California developing it into a leader of popular-premium wines. He also entered into a joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild to create Opus One Winery, and since the 1990s has set up joint ventures with local partners in Europe, South America and Australia. [6]

Interested by his work and his success, in the 1990s Mondavi's story and his wine company became topics for specialists of wine.

In the Grand European Jury Wine Tasting of 1997, the Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve was ranked number one.

In 2005, Robert Mondavi and his younger brother Peter made wine together for the first time after their feud. Using grapes from both family vineyards, they produced one barrel of cabernet blend, which was sold for $400,000 under the name "Ancora Una Volta" ("Once Again") at the 2005 Napa Valley Auction. [7] All the money earned from the barrel of wine went to charity.

Legacy

In 2003, Mondavi expressed regret and criticized his sons for the business strategy that emphasized the inexpensive Mondavi lines, Coastal and Woodbridge, over the premium wines, allowing the company name to lose its association with fine wine it held in the past. He said, "We've got to get our image back, and that's going to take time." [8]

In the 2004 documentary film Mondovino , the Mondavi family featured prominently, in close application to its theme of globalization. At the time, the Mondavis had recently acquired the Italian "cult wine" Ornellaia winery, Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia.

UC Davis Mondavi Center UC Davis Mondavi Center.jpg
UC Davis Mondavi Center

On December 22, 2004, Constellation Brands acquired the Mondavi winery in a controversial takeover for nearly US$1.36 billion in cash and assumption of debt. [9] Following the sale of the company, Mondavi partnered with his younger son Tim Mondavi and daughter Marcia Mondavi to make a single wine from a single estate at the highest level. The family partnership Continuum Estate is still run by Robert's son Tim, daughter Marcia and grandchildren Carissa Mondavi, Chiara Mondavi, Carlo Mondavi and Dante Mondavi.

In 2001, Robert Mondavi donated $10 million to help with the building cost of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts building at UC Davis. The Mondavi Center was opened on October 3, 2002. Robert also donated $25 million to establish the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and this opened a new era for UC Davis’s wine and food programs. It was the largest private contribution to UC Davis.

The two were founders and major benefactors behind the museum Copia, which opened November 2001 in the city of Napa, California.

Robert and Margrit were also founding supporters of the restoration of the 19th-century Napa Valley Opera House and the Oxbow School, a new art school in Napa that provides grants and instruction to art students in their junior year of high school. They have contributed to the restoration of the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville, California, and have supported the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Death

Robert Mondavi died at his Yountville home on May 16, 2008 at the age of 94. [1] [10] [11] [12]

Published works

An autobiography Harvests of Joy was published in 1998. [13]

Awards and honors

Robert Mondavi was selected as the Decanter "Man of the Year" in 1989. [10] He was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1991.

In 2000 he was awarded Doctor of Oenology, Honoris Causa, by the Board of Trustees of Johnson & Wales University.

In 2002, he received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. [14] In 2005, he received the Legion of Honour from the French government.

On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Mondavi into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. [15]

He was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America Vintner's Hall of Fame in 2007. [16] The election was based upon ballots from seventy wine journalists. The decision for their election of Mondavi is for contributions to the wine industry of California during his lifetime.

Robert Mondavi was awarded the Presidential Gold Medal of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs in December 2006 for his many contributions to the Society.

See also

Further reading

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References

  1. 1 2 Laube, James, Wine Spectator (May 17, 2008). "Robert Mondavi Dies at Age of 94".
  2. "Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science Opens". University of California, Davis. October 10, 2008.
  3. "Robert Mondavi, Napa Wine Champion, Dies at 94". May 16, 2008.
  4. Davis, Kip (September 15, 2011). "Peter Mondavi leads Krug's 150th anniversary celebration". Napa Valley Register . Lee Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  5. Prial, Frank. "Robert Mondavi, Napa Wine Champion, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  6. Julien Lefour, Comment les cépages de tradition française deviennent des vins californiens ?, Communications, n°77, 2005, 16 p. (Edgar Morin Center – EHESS/CNRS). Free downloading sur http://www.persee.fr
  7. Patricia Sullivan, "Robert Mondavi 94; Noted Vintner Who Raised Qualities of American Wine", Washington Post , May 17, 2008, p. B5. Accessed 24 May 2008.
  8. Frank J. Prial (July 2, 2003). "With Head Held High, Mondavi, at 90, Faces a Storm". The New York Times .
  9. Carol Emert (November 4, 2004). "Legendary California wine company is sold". San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  10. 1 2 Lechmere, Adam, Decanter.com (May 16, 2008). "'Colossus' Robert Mondavi dies".
  11. Hubler, Shawn (May 17, 2008). "California wine came of age under him Vintner elevated state's wines". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  12. Carson, l. Pierce (May 16, 2008). "Winery patriarch dead at 94 Mondavi passes: 'We've lost our leader'". Napa Valley Register . Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  13. Mondavi, Robert; Paul Chutkow (1999). Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business. New York: Harvest Books. ISBN   978-0-15-601056-6.
  14. Intardonato, John (June 19, 2013). "Just remembering Robert Mondavi". Napa Valley Register.
  15. Mondavi inducted into California Hall of Fame Archived January 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine , California Museum. Accessed 2007.
  16. "Vintners Hall of Fame Inductees," Culinary Institute of America Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine