“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the Art of Living.
“When I pour a glass of truly fine wine, when I hold it up to the light and admire its color, when I raise it to my nose and savor its bouquet and essence, I know that wine is, above all else, a blessing, a gift of nature, a joy as pure and elemental as the soil and vines and sunshine from which it springs.”
Those were the words of Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi, excerpted from his book, “Harvests of Joy.”
Mondavi’s death on Friday was not unexpected. He was 94. But it still brought tears to the eyes of tens of thousands of wine lovers who were fortunate enough to have met the iconic winemaker, and it touched millions around the world who had savored wines crafted at the Robert Mondavi Winery.
It’s safe to say that there was no individual more important to the growth of the California wine industry than Mondavi. He traveled the highways and byways of the United States and countries around the world, promoting the quality of California wine. In an era when many felt the only worthwhile dinner wines came from Italy, and the only special occasion wines came from France, Mondavi worked relentlessly to change attitudes and drinking habits. He talked, he popped corks, and he shared his passion.
He was a founding member (in 1944) of the Napa Valley Vintners trade association, and led the charge to organize the Napa Valley Wine Auction, now known as Auction Napa Valley. And his philanthropic work was legendary, as he and his family contributed millions of dollars to help fund initiatives and edifices benefiting education and the arts.
Volume 16, No. 8 of The Grapevine – the official publication of the wine clubs of Vinesse – will be dedicated to the Babe Ruth of California winemaking.
Meanwhile, here are two links to comprehensive coverage of Mondavi’s death…
*** Robert Mondavi, Napa Wine Champion, Dies at 94 (The New York Times, By Frank J. Prial)
*** Remembering Robert Mondavi (Napa Valley Register)