True North in the New World

Life, in its historical minds eye, can be a cruel mistress, cutting with both sides of the knife.

To the positive, our memories can lead to a sepia-toned nostalgia steeped in mythology.

The downside, however, is a frequent benign neglect; out of sight, out of mind.

In the best circumstances, we pay respects to those that have made an indelible mark on our society with a reverent and honorable remembrance.

In the wine world, a time for remembrance is drawing near.


May 16, 2009 is the one-year anniversary of the day that Robert Mondavi passed away.

Like me, thousands and thousands of wine lovers across the country view Mondavi, in reality and mythology, as the equivalent to a wine spiritual compass, a true north.

There is little question that California wine would not have earned its status on the world stage without the leadership of Robert Mondavi—truly a giant in the industry, a man revered for his vision, his audacity and his accomplishments.

Personally, Robert Mondavi has been a significant and re-occurring figure in my own wine life.

First encountering Robert Mondavi winery as a case study in a Marketing 300 course in college, I later read Harvests of Joy, Mondavi’s autobiography, a seminal moment that did not start my wine journey, but ignited it, inciting me to cross the transom from casual fan to budding enthusiast 10 years ago.

Later I went to the winery, a mecca of sorts for Napa Valley.

Some eight years later, I read The House of Mondavi, a portrait of the man that fleshed out his humanity.

In between, I drank a lot of Mondavi wine, across the price spectrum, always a reliable choice.

As an individual, all I can do is have a tipple on May 16th and remember Mondavi with fondness for his impact on the domestic wine world that gives me so much pleasure.

However, with the power of the Internet, collectively, we can start an annual day to honor the man, in a small, organic way in order to pay homage to him and his family.

So, that is what I am going to do.

I am not sure what exact form and function this will take, but I am the host of the May edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday and it is a safe bet that a California-ish/Mondavi/food pairing theme is in the offing.

Separately, I may do a few other things as well, but the overall intent is to keep this as an honor to the man and his impact on the domestic wine industry and our wine culture at large.

My goal, long-term, in a small, humble way, is to ensure we pay respect, if only fleetingly, once annually, to the patriarch of our current day wine culture, my true north in the New World of wine.