Imagine a wine list, at a fine restaurant in America, with wines only from France, Italy and Germany. This was the world before Robert Mondavi, before the mid 1960s. Mondavi was certain that California was capable of making world-class wines, and he visited the great vineyards and cellars of Europe and brought their winemaking experience home. The Robert Mondavi Winery is still Napa Valley’s most popular tourist attraction, and wineries all over the world have followed his lead in producing and marketing their wines.
Mondavi changed the way Americans think about food and wine, advocating wine as part of everyday life and a healthy lifestyle. He challenged Americans to cook and experiment with wine pairings, and along with other champions of good living, like Julia Child and Alice Waters, encouraged us to enjoy fine dining from our gardens, in our homes, around the family table.
Robert Mondavi passed away Friday, May 16. He was 94.