Then Robert Mondavi founded his namesake winery in 1966, he had no way of knowing that he would quickly become a leading producer of high-quality California wines, let alone a household name.
Mondavi’s story begins in 1943 with Italian-American immigrant parents, Cesare and Rosa. Armed with traditional winemaking skills from the Old World, the Mondavis headed up the Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley.
Eager to form a family business, Cesare gave his sons Robert and Peter positions at the winery. While the brothers shared a great passion for wine, they did not always agree. After a bitter falling out, Robert left the family winery in 1965 and, the next year, founded the Robert Mondavi Winery with his eldest son, Michael.
Mondavi’s younger son, Tim, joined his winery team almost a decade later. But like the previous generation, the brothers sparred frequently.
In 1990, Michael and Tim were handed the company reigns. Four years later, the company went public (Michael was named president at that time) and was eventually purchased by beverage giant Constellation Brands. Although the brothers mended ways, wine aficionados across the country feared it was the end of America’s first family of wine.
Not to worry. The Mondavi family tradition remains strong. Shortly after the buyout, Michael Mondavi founded Folio Fine Wine Partners with his son, Rob, and daughter, Dina.
Representing the interests of smaller wineries around the globe, Folio builds awareness of family-owned brands — including Spellbound, Oberon, I’M and Medusa, which are crafted by Rob Mondavi and veteran winemaker Tony Coltrin — through marketing, sales and public-relations support.
Earlier this year, the family opened Folio Winemakers’ Studio, a new winery in the Los Carneros appellation representing the fourth generation of Mondavi wines. Under the Folio umbrella, Rob and sister Dina can write their own chapter in America’s winemaking history.
So, raise a glass this July to celebrate America’s birthday with these American-made and Mondavi-crafted wines spirited enough to pair with all things red, white and blue.
Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, was joined by the Cleveland NEOenophiles in selecting and sampling wines for this month’s Cellar Notes.
2005 Hangtime Chardonnay, Edna Valley, California ($15): Concentrated aromas of tropical fruits, apple, pear and a hint of toasty oak. Medium body, crisp acidity and a creamy mouthfeel offer “hangtime” on the palate.
2003 Spellbound Petite Sirah, California ($15): Dark magenta-red hue. Perfumed aromatics of raspberry and mulberry are paired with lush, ripe tannins. A moderate dose of acidity and alcohol gives the wine a long, juicy finish.
2002 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($20): Medium-plus in body with juicy aromas of berry cobbler, vanilla and smoked cranberry. Ripe tannins are slightly firm and supported by crisp acidity. Great Tuesday night wine.
2004 I’M Rosé, Napa Valley, California ($13): Beautiful ruby-red hue derived from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Dry with crisp acidity and bright aromas of cherries and strawberries. Think grilled pork, barbecue or a simple pizza.
2003 I’M Chardonnay, Sonoma, California ($17): Medium body with creamy mouthfeel. Pear, apple and citrus aromas are supported by crisp acidity and moderate alcohol for a long finish. Great alone or with grilled chicken.
2005 Oberon Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California ($15): Pale yellow with mouthwatering acidity, medium body and lots of peachy, citrus aromas and a hint of mineral notes. The perfect match for patio parties.