If Robert Mondavi Were Alive Today 8

“Indeed enjoying fine wine at the family table, surrounded by your loved ones and friends, was not just joy – it was one of the highest forms of the art of living” – Robert Mondavi.


It’s hard to believe it’s been four years already since Robert Mondavi’s passing. Yet, his legacy is going strong. Mrs B. and I only moved to Northern California three years ago, but we still meet people on a regular basis who credit Mondavi for their career in the wine industry.

In the book, Harvests of Joy, Mondavi recounts his life growing up in Minnesota where his father made wine in the basement before the family moved to California. Robert Mondavi followed an almost Forrest Gump-ish path in life from attending college at Stanford, forming the Napa Valley Vintners cooperative in 1944 to helping put Napa Valley on the map with his winery in the 1960‘s and the industry’s first public tasting room in 1965, and of course the founding of Opus One in 1979. Unlike Forrest Gump, Robert Mondavi was very smart and very driven, yet he seemed to find himself in the right place at the right time many times throughout his life.

photo courtesy of Napa Valley Vintners

In this 1945 photo Mondavi can be seen here second from left with some of Napa Valley’s forefather’s. From left to right: Charles Forni (Napa Valley Cooperative Winery), Robert Mondavi (C. Mondavi & Sons), Brother Timothy (Mont La Salle), Al Huntsinger (Napa Valley Cooperative Winery), Mike Ahern (Freemark Abbey), Charles Beringer, Fred Abruzzini (Beringer Brothers), Louis M. Martini, John Daniel, Jr. (Ingelnook Vineyard Co.), and Martin Stelling, Jr. (Sunny St. Helena).

Did you know Mondavi didn’t start Robert Mondavi Winery until he was near retirement age? How many people would or could start a wine empire in their ’50’s?

If I were to list all of Robert Mondavi’s accomplishments it would take several pages of blog posts. In short, he was and is a true visionary—quite possibly one of the top five most important people in the global wine industry in the past century or ever.

But what if Robert Mondavi were alive today? What if he was in his prime? What if Mondavi had the social media tools we have today? I’d be willing to bet if Mondavi was just now starting Robert Mondavi Winery in today’s world he would no doubt go about it the exact same way—with warmth, generosity of spirit and an eye on family. He would dominate the landscape through drive, determination and an ability to push and pull people. More importantly, Mondavi would dominate the social media airwaves.

If Robert Mondavi had a way to connect with people with his charisma, he’d go all in. He would most likely dominate Twitter. He’d have tons of fans on his Facebook page. His Instagram photos would get tons of ‘Likes’. People would actually pay attention to what he was posting because he was just that interesting.

Come to think of it, I’m really inspired by Robert Mondavi. I’ve heard references to Mondavi over and over through the years, but it wasn’t until I stopped to write this post that I actually really absorbed all his contributions to the world of wine in his lifetime. Is there anyone in today’s wine world who can leave such a legacy as Robert Mondavi? Is there any one single person out there who will shape the wine industry they way he did?

If Robert Mondavi were alive today he would do all the things he did from 1920-1990 but he would have the digital tools to expand his reach. What’s really impressive is he did all the things he did without social media or the internet. And THAT is impressive.

Please share your thoughts

8 thoughts on “If Robert Mondavi Were Alive Today

  • Mia Malm

    Mr. Mondavi was a born communicator who loved connecting with people. He also loved innovation. So I believe he would have “gotten” social media and been enthusiastic about it. I agree, he’d have dominated Twitter, although limiting himself to 140 characters would have been an interesting twist! He was one of a kind.

  • Sam

    If Robert were still alive I can’t help but think the wonderfully strange yet marvelous Copia would also still be alive! He was the driving force behind it, and it’s obviously no coincidence it closed six months after he passed away.

  • Tim Pawsey

    I agree. Mr. Mondavi would have been all over social media. I was so lucky to have met him and Margrit on a few occasions. In fact, I can give you a quote from one truly memorable lunch that I’m sure he would have tweeted (or I would have!): “I don’t like water on its own (or milk for that matter). I like wine, especially red wine”. And then “When I’m thirsty I like to drink red wine with ice cubes and water…” Maybe I’ll post about it. Thanks for rekindling the memory.

  • Matt Williams

    Wonderful post. As an aspiring winemaker myself there is so much to learn from Mr. Mondavi, mistakes and triumphs alike.

    To have accomplished what he did only after he turned fifty is a testament to the fire he must have had within him. If only we all had such a fire within us for whatever our life’s pursuit is.