Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi is a name known the world over. The ambitious businessman created his eponymous winery in 1966 to produce world-class wines in Napa, pioneering quality winemaking and becoming a champion for the region.

About Robert Mondavi

About Robert Mondavi Winery

Born in 1913 in Minnesota, Robert, aka Bob, was the son of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, who moved to Lodi when he was little, and went on to study at Stanford. The family bought Charles Krug in St Helena in 1943. After disagreeing with his brother Peter, Robert split away from the family business to establish his own winery in Oakville in 1966. The first vineyard Mondavi purchased was a section of To Kalon, most of which is now owned and farmed by the winery. A master marketeer, Mondavi believed in Napa’s potential and was determined to prove it – often serving his wines alongside the best from Bordeaux and the Rhône. He travelled the world, breaking bread with the industry’s leading figures, acting as an ambassador not just for his own wines but the entire Napa Valley. His parents had emigrated from Italy and wine had always been a key feature of mealtimes, something that was not then common in the US. At a time when much of the region was still focused on producing volume, Mondavi was considered a maverick at first for championing high-quality wine, but soon his methods were adopted widely. In 1968, he launched his Fumé Blanc – rebranding Sauvignon Blanc (then sweet and unfashionable) as an oaked, dry white, pioneering a style that is distinctly Californian and was instantly popular – alongside his fine Cabernet Sauvignon. Mondavi didn’t stop with the one project, launching Opus One – a collaboration with Baron Phlippe de Mouton (of Ch. Mouton Rothshild) with the 1979 vintage – in 1984, starting Woodbridge (a higher-volume Central Valley project to cater for more entry-level consumers) in 1979 as well. In 1995, he ventured south, clubbing up with the Chadwick family of Viña Errázuriz to create Seña – Chile’s first icon wine. In 1999, he invested in Ornellaia, becoming joint shareholders with the Antinori family in 2002, before selling in 2005. Constellation bought the Robert Mondavi Winery in 2004, and none of the Mondavi family are involved today. Robert passed away in 2008 at 94 years of age. Geneviève Janssens has been the Chief Winemaker for many years, however Kurtis Ogasawara is the man on the ground today, handling day-to-day work in the winery. The business owns vineyards in Oakville, Stags Leap and Carneros, producing a range dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, but including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Robert’s children – Michael, Marcia and Tim – were all involved in the family business prior to its sale, with Michael acting as CEO. Tim and Marcia went on to create Continuum in 2005, continuing the family’s winemaking legacy, while Michael has his own family project – Michael Mondavi Family Estate. Tim’s children, Carlo and Dante, now also have their own winery in the Sonoma Coast, focused on Pinot Noir, Raen.


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