Friday, May 16, 2008

Sad News From The World Of Wine

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.


Catherine Wilkinson said...

What a grand life! I just read that the winery was designed by Cliff May. Be sure to check out his designs...I love his work.
Anyway, RM was a true Renaissance man that we don't see many of any more.

Mary Sue said...

Ah, yes, Copia. It took one year to raise the several hundred million dollars to build it on a piece of land that floods without fail every two years... and yet it took ten years for the Boys and Girls Club of the Napa Valley to raise one million dollars to give children a safe place to be after school.

Napa: Nice place to visit, crappy place to grow up.

Sue said...

Yes, Catherine, I agree.

Hi Mary Sue,
I'm with you that boys and girls should take precedence over wine, but hasn't the community benefited at all from the massive influx of tourist dollars?