I was never a big fan of his wines, but Robert Mondavi’s relentless enthusiasm for Northern California wines was an important driver in the region’s rise to the ranks of wine-making greats, on par with Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barossa Valley, Barolo and a few other places on earth.
I remember going wine tasting at his beautiful facility in the Napa Valley and being whisked off to a private tasting by a friend of a friend who happened to work there. We tasted some very nice wines (and one great one), were treated like royalty, and even went skinny-dipping in a local lake.
He will be missed by the wine-making and drinking world, and by the many charities that he supported. But most of all his drive and boundless energy, all focused on making the Napa Valley the best wine-making region in the world, will be difficult to replace.