94 year old Robert Mondavi died at his Napa home today. I always admired this grand gentleman, who produced some of the best wines of his generation, while providing decent moderately priced ones as well.
I remember when he and Baron Philippe de Rothschild joined together to make a California premium wine, known as Opus One. H and I visited the beautiful Mondavi Winery years ago and I remember hoping that Opus One was included in the tasting at the end of the tour....No such luck.
Mondavi's list of accomplishments is long, but of particular interest to me is his part in Copia. It was his brainchild and the recipient of his $20 million gift.
He grew up in the California wine business and his family bought the Charles Krug Winery in 1943. When he was 52 in 1966, he and his remaining brother had a disagreement that couldn't be mended and he started his own winery, the Robert Mondavi Winery. (His brother remained in control of Charles Krug.)
The Robert Mondavi family sold their entire wine business to Constellation Brands in 2001 for more than one billion dollars. The sale included their exclusive AND everyday wines, even though the family had been prepared to split the company.
All through his life, Robert Mondavi travelled widely and kept in close touch with European winemakers. He was also interested in art and music and was a well-known patron of both.
Time to crack open a bottle and toast to all his long life, good works and many accomplishments.