Mondavi, Robert Gerald (məndäˈvē) [key], 1913–2008, American vintner who was in the forefront of establishing California as a major table-wine-producing region and wine as a staple of the American table, b. Hibbing, Minn., grad Stanford (1936). His Italian immigrant family moved to Lodi, Calif., then America's wine-grape capital, in 1923. Mondavi worked in a winery after college, and in 1943 his family bought a Napa Valley winery, which was run by Mondavi and his brother. He left the family business in 1965 and the following year established his own winery in the Napa Valley. Determined to improve the pedestrian quality of domestic wines, he introduced a number of European techniques to American wine production, e.g., fermentation in stainless-steel tank and aging in French oak barrels. He and his sons also developed and introduced outstanding new wines, and partnered with international winemakers, most notably founding the high-quality Opus One winery with Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Mondavi also helped make the Napa Valley a major tourist center. Extensive borrowing forced his company to go public in 1993; Mondavi retired from the business in 2004.
See his autobiography (1998); C. Ray, Robert Mondavi of the Napa Valley (1984), O. Torrès, The Wine Wars (2006); J. G. Silver, The House of Mondavi (2007).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.