I loved the story how he and his wife had a ONE bedroom HUGE house, so that they had privacy.
Robert and I...sometimes I call him BOB, have spent some time together. He will be missed.
BERKELEY, Calif. - Robert Mondavi, the pioneering vintner who helped put California wine country on the map, died at his Napa Valley home Friday. He was 94. Mondavi died peacefully at his home in Yountville, Robert Mondavi Winery spokeswoman Mia Malm said.
He was 52 and a winemaking veteran in 1966, when he opened the winery that would help turn the Napa Valley into a world center of the industry. Clashes with a brother that included a fistfight led him to break from the family business to carry out his ambitious plans with borrowed money.
"He had the single greatest influence in this country with respect to high quality wine and its place at the table," wine critic Robert Parker wrote in a chat room posting on his Web site Friday. He called Mondavi "an exceptional man....a true pioneer...a legendary pathfinder.....and I feel so priviledged to have known him...a sad day...but also one to pay homage to his enormous contributions."
When Mondavi opened his winery, California was still primarily known for cheap jug wines. But he set out to change that, championing use of cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels, all commonplace in the industry today. He introduced blind tastings in Napa Valley, putting his wines up against French vintages, a bold move.
His confidence was rewarded in 1976 when California wines beat some well-known French vintages in the famous tasting known as the Judgment of Paris.
Always convinced that California wines could compete with the European greats, Mondavi engaged in the first French-American wine venture when he formed a limited partnership with the legendary French vintner Baron Philippe de Rothschild to grow and make the ultra-premium Opus One at Oakville. The venture's first vintage was in 1979.