Robert Mondavi

Lifetime Achievements 1989 - Deceased
Oakville, California

It is unquestionable that the world of wine, especially in America, would not be the same had a couple from Sassoferrato in the Marche region of Italy not immigrated and settled in Minnesota, later giving birth to Robert Gerald Mondavi on June 18th, 1913.

Early Life:
Robert’s childhood was intertwined with the world of wine from the very beginning, and bits of Italy shined through influencing him with a love of good food, and great wine. After his birth in Virginia, Minnesota, Robert and his family moved to Lodi, California, where while he was attending high school, his father, Cesare, opened C.Mondavi and Sons, a business packaging and shipping grapes for home wine breweries.

Quickly realizing that producing wine took more than just loving it, Mondavi attended College at Stratford and graduated in 1937 with a degree in economics and business administration, setting the ground work for his life time commitment to raise the quality of wine, and the technology surrounding it’s making.

After graduation:
After his graduation, Robert convinced his father to purchase the Charles Krug Winery and take over the business with his younger son Peter, as well as himself, and Robert. The Krug Winery was established in Nappa Valley, 1861 by James Moffitt, and Robert stayed at the winery raising his three children, Michael, Marcia and Timothy, there until in 1965 when a feud with Peter drove him into opening a winery of his own. The Robert Mondavi Winery was the result. Mondavi opened his winery at the age of 53 in 1965 with the goal of bringing American technology together with old world tradition. It was the first major winery to open in Oakville after the Prohibition ended in 1933. He married in 1967, bringing Margrit Biever Mondavi, to the winery and forever to his side.

His first big hit:
Robert’s first wine to make it big was actually an unpopular choice at the time in California, a dry oak wine he titled, “Fumé Blanc”, which quickly became a huge success and gained a newer title you may be familiar with, “Sauvignon Blanc”. In the years to follow he set the world of wine afire, producing numerous premium wines, and developing revolutionary new techniques for brewing, such as stainless steel tanks and the use of French oak barrels as well as cold fermentation.

A second winery:
His business grew in size with the opening of the Mondavi Woodbridge Winery of Lodi, California in 1979, and the Opus One Winery, a merger between Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild. Taking his ambitious mergers to new continents, he founded international partnerships with the Frescobaldi family in Italy and Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuríz in Chile.

Later in life:
Over the next 30 years, Robert Mondavi achieved more than most men could in three lifetimes. Beginning in 1982 when he was dubbed wine maker of the year by the American Wine Society. He was then “Man of the year” in 1986 (Wines and Vines magazine), and in 1988 (Decanter magazine) and in the same year was awarded the “Hall of Fame” Award by the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The list could go on with upwards of 25 significant honors and awards in regards to his winery, and wines from 1988 to 2007.

As you know all good things must come to pass, and Robert Gerald Mondavi is no exception. He passed away the morning of May 16th, 2008 peacefully at 94 with his wife still at his side in Nappa Valley, California.

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