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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. fredw says:

    FYI – Until about 25 years ago or so California had an annual inventory tax, so most wineries sold the wine as soon as possible to avoid the tax. When Mondavi said he would release no wine before it’s time, he ment it, it was not a hollow marketing slogan. He stored the wine and paid the tax.

  2. fredw says:

    Oops – wrong winery – that was Paul Masson.

  3. DL says:

    I suspect that much of France’s dislike for the USA is an entrenched attitude about losing out on “the finest wines” on the world’s stage. (Forget about that talk about having us bail them out of two wars)

  4. sam says:

    I suspect that much of France’s dislike for the USA is an entrenched attitude about losing out on “the finest wines” on the world’s stage.

    I recall reading many years ago that at one time the French vines were attacked by some disease that almost wiped them out. The French imported healthy American (California) vines to replace the diseased ones.

  5. Elmo says:

    Mmmmm …. Schramsberg.