Robert Mondavi, the founding father of the California wine industry, passed away today at 94 years old. Mondavi was crucial to the development of fine wine in California. He founded his eponymous estate in 1966, already 53 years old, and turned California from a place best known for jug wine and drunk staples like Ripple into a worldwide powerhouse.
Mondavi created not just some memorable wines (some might even say world-class), but he also spawned a family that’s been instrumental in pushing forward the greater good of U.S. winemaking. Though Mondavi hit hard times a few years ago, ending with him selling his winemaking operation to Constellation Brands, he never ceased to be an inspiration for the Valley.
He will be missed, and I’ll be drinking a glass in his honor tonight.