Robert Mondavi Dies at 94
California wine impresario Robert Mondavi has died at the ripe old age of 94.
Robert Mondavi, the man hailed as the ambassador of the Napa Valley and the godfather of California wine, no longer owned a winery when he died today at his home in Yountville at the age of 94. The winery that bears his name is now part of the portfolio of wine and spirits giant Constellation Brands.
But Mondavi leaves a legacy far greater than just that winery. For years, he captured the imaginations of wine producers, urging them to compete with the world’s best, and of wine drinkers, opening their eyes to how this simple beverage could enrich their daily lives.
Recognizing that a rising tide would lift all boats, he promoted the cause of premium California wine even as he pushed his own brands. With his energy, enthusiasm and vision, Mondavi arguably did more to raise the reputation of California wine – and, in particular, Napa Valley wine – than anyone.
I prefer wines from the Willamette Valley, personally, but the widespread availability of truly excellent domestic wines is at least partly Mondavi’s doing.