Few people have done more for the wine industry in the US than Robert Mondavi. From their Robert Mondavi Private Selection to their most affordable wine, this vineyard almost single handedly made high-quality wine available and affordable to wine lovers everywhere.
He got into the wine business when his family bought the Charles Krug winery in 1943. But Mondavi, who had graduated from Stanford University in 1937 with a degree in economics and business administration, left the family business in 1965 after a feud with his brother over the business direction of the winery. A year later, he established the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California, near the family winery in St. Helena in Napa Valley. It was the first vineyard established in the US since prohibition ended in 1933.
Building the Reputation of California Wines
All of the quality wineries are located on the west coast of the US, primarily in Northern California. But prior to Robert Mondavi establishing his own winery, the wineries of the US were thought of as offering a lower quality wine than the wineries of Europe. The reputation persisted, even though the Napa Valley of Northern California offered much the same climate and type of soil as southern Italy and France. It was the wine-growing region of choice for vintners relocating to America since the early 1800s.
Because of this stubborn reputation worldwide, the wineries of California were relegated to focusing on creating less-expensive wines that didn’t compete with the finest wines coming out of European wine-making countries.
California wines, before Robert Mondavi arrived on the wine-making scene, were often sold cheaply in large jugs. Varieties of wine were often indiscriminately blended to create a uniform taste.
Robert Mondavi questioned the approach of his wine-making neighbours in Napa Valley. From the day he established his winery in the To Kalon Vineyard, he displayed a remarkable departure from the established norms of his neighbours and set out to compete with the finest wines in the world.
Establishing Brands and Varieties
From the outset, Mondavi defied the norms by promoting the labeling of wines varietally rather than generically. This caught the attention of wine aficionados, who applauded his attention to the variety of grapes used to create a certain type of wine. Labelling wines by variety soon became the standard for what was referred to as "New World" wines. The practice has since been adopted by wineries in Australia, Chile, and South Africa, among other countries.
In 1968, Mondavi created a dry Sauvignon Blanc aged in oak barrels and named it Fumé Blanc. Although Sauvignon Blanc was unpopular with wine drinkers of the time, the wine was well-received, and Fumé Blanc became an accepted synonym for Sauvignon Blanc around the world.
Mondavi's insistence on focusing on the quality of the wine-making craft in creating his products led to the rise in the quality of California wines as a whole. More and more neighbouring vintners saw the wisdom in putting in the effort to make a superb varietal wine from some of the finest quality grapes in the world. It lifted the fortunes of the California wine industry. This caused Napa Valley’s reputation for producing superior quality wines to continue to grow in prominence through the 1980s until today.
The winery created different brands over the years. In 1978, it partnered with Baron Phillipe de Rothschild to create the Opus One Winery. Since the 1990s, Robert Mondavi Winery has set up joint ventures with wineries in Australia, Europe, and South America.
In 1997, Mondavi’s Chardonnay Reserve was ranked number one by the Grand European Jury Wine tasting. This elevated the wine-making skill of Mondavi to be on par with that of the finest wine-makers in Europe. It also served to solidify the wine-making prestige and reputation of other countries besides those of Europe.
Robert Mondavi died at his Yountville home down the road from his beloved winery on May 16, 2008, at the age of 94. But he was able to accept and appreciate the honour bestowed on him by seventy outstanding wine journalists when they awarded him an induction into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2007. The award was to honour him for his contributions to making the wine industry of California famous throughout the world.
Ambrose Wines and Spirits Stocks Robert Mondavi Wines
Ambrose Wines and Spirits offers quality wines for distribution in Thailand from our four locations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Samui, and Phuket.
Within our large selection of wines from around the world, we carry the Robert Mondavi Private Selection brand of premium wines from Napa Valley. Place an order by phone to any of our closest branch offices in Thailand, and you can enjoy the exquisite tastes of the Napa Valley. We offer wholesale and direct-to-consumer services, so everyone can enjoy the sophisticated and famous tastes of the wines developed by the Robert Mondavi Vineyard.