Robert Mondavi believed in the health benefits of drinking wine, and it was tough to argue with his stance on the subject considering he lived to within one month of 95 years.
Like George Burns, he had hoped to reach that most coveted of longevity milestones: 100 years. But he passed away on May 16, 2008. Still, 94 years and 11 months ain’t bad.
On June 18—what would have been his 100th birthday—the winery that bears his name in California’s Napa Valley will mark the occasion in a very classy way. The winery has had commemorative glasses made, into which Mondavi’s “signature wine”—Fumé Blanc—will be poured.
As the story goes, in the early days of his winery, Mondavi was making very good Sauvignon Blanc but finding it challenging to sell. So he began aging the wine in oak barrels and came up with a new name for the product: Fumé Blanc. The “new” wine caught on with the American public, and Mondavi had transformed a “tough sell” into a dependable sell-out.
What better way to toast the memory and contributions of a true Napa Valley wine pioneer than raising a toast with the wine he made famous?
Late last summer, as a new harvest season was kicking into gear in Napa Valley, Bill Daley of the Chicago Tribune wrote this salute to the wine industry icon.
Daley began the story by noting, “Robert Mondavi was to California wine what Julia Child was to French food in the United States.”
In her book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” Child made this observation: “Just like becoming an expert in wine—you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford—you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simple or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
What an incredible experience it would have been…just once…to share a table with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi.