Today at 9:00 am, a “visionary vintner, winemaker, and wine marketer" died at his home in Yountville, CA. Robert Mondavi was 94 years old. He was one of the most influential winemakers and wine marketers in California history and certainly the driving force behind the new era of California wine (and at his lengthy age a good argument for drinking a glass of wine a day). Robert Gerald Mondavi was born June 18, 1913. His parents were Italian immigrants and settled in the Minnesota city of Hibbing, where Mondavi was born (another legend would also be born in Hibbing, MN almost 28 years later - Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan).
After learning of Mondavi's death, I thought about the legacy he leaves to everyone who is a New World wine aficionado, whether we knew of him or not. And I also thought how he may have influenced Washington State's own wine legacy and especially the wine industry in Walla Walla. Later this morning I was reminded of this quote by Allen Shoup, CEO of Long Shadows Wine Consortium in Walla Walla, WA. It's from an article in the March 21, 2008 issue of the WASHINGTON CEO Magazine, “Refined Vintages” by: Steve Bjerklie.
"The genesis for Long Shadows goes back to Robert Mondavi, who I got to know when I worked for Gallo in the 1970s and who is still a good friend," says Shoup. "In 1978 he and the Baron de Rothschild came out with Opus One, their joint project in Napa Valley. It instantly hit me as an ingenious thing to do. California was still fighting back then for recognition and Opus One helped put Napa wine on the map -- I give a lot of credit to Bob, who always promoted Napa ahead of his own wine. But if Bob was building a mountain in California, up here in Washington we were still in a chasm." - - Allen Shoup