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Mondavi and my Mount Rushmore

I’m not much for hero worship.  In a celebrity-obsessed culture, I wouldn’t ask Brad Pitt for a picture or an autograph if he was eating a cheeseburger next to me in the same restaurant. Ditto that for Britney Spears, a reincarnated Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, TomKat, or any of the other folks that grace weekly celebrity mags.

That said, there are less than a handful of people that have earned my deep admiration for their professional accomplishments.  If I could build my Mount Rushmore with people whom I admire with a great respect and genuine humbleness for their particular genius it would have the following four visages:

Lou Holtz, legendary Notre Dame Coach, walks it like he talks it, a leader of men and master motivator.  Quotable Lou:
“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.”

Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board, might have been the last real man, a legacy of a bygone era. Quotable Frank: “I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn’t be a staring contest.”

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers, had a will to win that surpassed his considerable God-given ability. Quotable Michael:  “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Robert Mondavi, THE visionary for the U.S. wine industry we know today. Quotable Mondavi: “There are a lot of people with a lot of money, and I’m amazed they don’t understand what a great pleasure it can be to give.”

Unfortunately, if news accounts based on the new book on Robert Mondavi are true, it was precisely his philanthropic largesse that was his undoing.

I received my copy of “The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty” from yesterday.  It’s a read I’ve been anxiously looking forward to.

Robert Mondavi accelerated my fascination with wine with his autobiography Harvests of Joy in the late 90s and I consider him (like many others) to be the preeminent figure in the modern wine industry.  Likewise, I recently purchased the E&J Gallo autobiography published in the 90s so I could understand previous history—context if you will to know the past in order to understand the future.

I haven’t made it past the first chapter of “The House of Mondavi,” but the below articles all mention the book positively, with particular noteworthiness for evenhandedness.

If you haven’t planned to pick up a copy, you may consider doing so.  Wine is a beverage to enjoy, but surely none of us would be sitting here writing about the good grape, fine wine, with such fervent interest if a market hadn’t been made some 40 years ago by Mondavi.

Article link:  Virginie Boone, The Press-Democrat

Article link:  Jon Bonne, The San Francisco Chronicle

Article link: Laurie Daniel, San Luis Obispo Tribune

Article link:  Wall Street Journal Book Review

Article link:  The Cork Board

Also, leave a comment.  Who would be on your Mount Rushmore?


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (7) |


On 06/21, el jefe wrote:

Cool post - but for me: Dean Martin or maybe Sammy Davis instead of Frank. Both interest me way more than Frank.

In the world of sport, I think I’d rather hang with Vin Scully. I could listen to him talk for days. Second choice AJ Foyt. He probably has more racing stories than anyone’s bar tab could afford…

And wine? Most would guess for me Randall Grahm. And they would be right, but probably for the wrong reasons.

Remind me someday to buy you a glass of something amazing and tell you all about it…

On 06/21, Jeff Lefevere wrote:

AJ Foyt?  Nice.  As an Indianapolis guy you know you’re touching a soft spot.

We’re long overdue for a glass of something and a long, rambling, philosophical conversation ...

If I would’ve looked at a map better, it could have been last week when I was on vacation and heading to Yosemite.  I stayed in Groveland, which has to be real close to your neck of the woods. 

It wasn’t until my wife, riding shotgun in our rented 23 foot RV “white-knuckled” through Tioga Pass, that I realized how close we had been to Murphy’s.

Next time ...  maybe she and I can help out with harvest sometime in the future.

All the best,


On 06/21, el jefe wrote:

Wow - you passed within a half hour of us! If you stayed in Groveland you probably came up 120. Groveland is about 45 minutes or so from here, and from here to Yosemite Valley floor is just about 2 hours assuming no gate delays.

(By the way, the Groveland Hotel has a couple Twisted Oak wines on their list smile

I am glad you got to go over the pass and see the east side and Mono Lake. In many ways I like it even better over there…

And by all means come by during crush! We’ll find something for you to stomp, and we won’t even charge you for “wine boot camp”! smile

On 06/29, winehiker wrote:

I’ll have to think a bit about my personal Mt. Rushmore, but it would include writer Edward Abbey and my high school music teacher (and avid backpacker) Don Carre. Nevertheless, Mondavi might be a third, and I’m proud to own an autographed copy of Harvests of Joy. Brad Pitt be damned!

I simply love Yosemite East, and have scaled 13,061-foot Mt. Dana. Here’s a photo of me from the top of that peak looking 8000 feet below to Mono Lake.

On 06/29, winehiker wrote:

Oh drat! I just realized the link I shared above isn’t public! Here’s my Plan B.

On 06/29, winehiker wrote:

OK, Plan C. (Sheesh!)

On 06/30, Jeff Lefevere wrote:

Cool pict.  Thanks for stopping by!  And, check out the brand spankin’ new image link to Winehiker on the front page of Good Grape.  Any reciprocal linking from your site is appreciated!



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