In the early days of the Robert Mondavi Winery, Michael, one of the sons of the founder, would do his best to slow down traffic — if you could even call it “traffic” back then — and try to get people to come in for a tour.
That was called marketing.
From very humble beginnings — the elder Mondavi had listed his “wife, three children and clothes” as collateral in order to obtain a loan to break ground — Robert Mondavi Winery grew to become one of the best known and most influential wine estates in the world.
Mondavi was almost clinically curious and extremely energetic, and loved experimenting with blends, cellar techniques and vineyard farming practices. Yes, the ultimate goal was to sell wine — he did, after all, change the name of Sauvignon Blanc to Fumé Blanc for that very purpose — but he wanted to make sure the wine he sold was good.
This past Saturday, several hundred friends, family members, customers, and past and current employees gathered at Robert Mondavi Winery to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Guests enjoyed sips of Mondavi’s 2014 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc, 2015 Napa Valley Rosé, 2013 Maestro, 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2014 Moscato D’Oro. They listened to the River School World of Percussion, and watched the Ballet Folklorico el Valle.
But mostly, they shared memories of past vintages, and of the man who had such a profound influence on the growth of the California wine industry.