When my husband opened the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966, the Napa Valley was still depressed from Prohibition. You could buy land for $1,000 an acre. So with Napa’s first new winery, Bob injected hope. He was so positive and generous. The other vintners came to him for advice. Or maybe they needed a truck, a few tons of grapes, or even money. He helped them all. He always said that the more good wine that came out of Napa Valley, the better it was for him. Today some vineyards go for $300,000 an acre.
Bob was a great salesman but didn’t know it. The last thing he would talk about was the Robert Mondavi Winery. He just talked about the history of wine and about growing up with wine at the table. It was a soft sales pitch, but people listened. Like a lot of Italian men, Bob (who would have been 100 this year) was effervescent and a little vain, but about some things he was self-effacing. For his gravestone, he said, “Just put my name on it.”