The success story of what is probably the most famous California wine-growing family began when Cesare Mondavi (1883-1959) emigrated from the Marche region to Virginia in the US state of Minnesota in 1906 and two years later his wife Rosalia Angela (1890-1976). After a short career in iron mining, Cesare opened a saloon. The family grew with the two sons Robert Gerald (1913-2008) and Peter Rudolph (1914-2016). The family followed in 1922 California and justified in Lodi in the Central Valley a wholesale of grapes. Wine was also produced for their own use. In 1943 this was done by Charles in 1861 jug (1825-1892) founded winery bought for $ 75,000. The two sons shared responsibility, Robert was responsible for marketing and Peter for vineyards and vinification. They were created by the famous enologist André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994) supported.
Temperature-controlled fermentation was introduced in the Charles Krug Winery as the first winery in America. After the father's death in 1959, the two brothers quarreled. The main reason was that the two could not agree on the direction and future of the winery. In 1965 there was an escalation with supposedly palpable clashes between the two (only 40 years later there was reconciliation in 2005). Robert Mondavi then founded the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville in 1966 with his son Michael Napa Valley, It was the first Napa Valley winery to be established since the American prohibition (1920-1933). The buildings were designed in the Spanish mission style with a bell tower. Peter Mondavi ran it with his mother Rosa Charles Krug Winery alone further.
The new property in Oakville was greatly expanded and now includes the To-Kalon vineyard (Oakville) acquired at the time of its foundation, the Wappo vineyard (Stags Leap) acquired in 1969 and the Huichica Hills (Carneros) vineyard acquired in 1988. The company subsequently became the California and American benchmark for completely new cellar technologies. Specifically, in Barrique experiments, which Robert Mondavi specifically researched after a visit to Europe. The famous “Fumé Blanc” was created, a dry white wine made from barrels Sauvignon Blanc (on the Loire "Blanc Fumé").
Today, top wines are also made from the red wine varieties Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot. Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir, as well as the white wine varieties Chardonnay, Riesling and Sémillon but also produced by others. A consequent "natural winegrowing / farming" (with European standard one Organic viticulture ) has become the defining Mondavi philosophy since 1970. Nevertheless, the most modern, innovative production methods are used, which are now known by many other large companies precision viticulture became popular. For example, the heat values of various vineyards are determined via satellite images in order to determine the optimal ripening times of the grapes. Biotopes and forest spots are planted in the vineyards, nesting birds are expressly desired.
The Mondavi empire now consists of a dozen different labels and companies that are linked in confusing and different ways. These are the headquarters and headquarters of Robert Mondavi Winery (Oakville, Napa Valley), Robert Mondavi Coastal, La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi and Colmera, the former cooperative winery bought in 1979 Woodbridge in the town of the same name, the Arrowood Vineyards & Winery with the two labels Arrowood and Grand Archer (Glen Ellen, Sonoma County), bought in 2000, and the Vichon Mediterranean winery in Languedoc, France, founded in 1997. There are also investments such as in Chile (joint venture with the Chadwick family, see Errázuriz ) and at the Australian winery Rosemount Estate (Joint venture with the Oatley family). Together with Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988), the owner of Château Mouton-Rothschild Robert Mondavi started the 50:50 joint venture in Napa Valley in 1979 Opus One with the top red wine of the same name.
The vineyards cover a total of 1,300 hectares of vines, including long-term contract vineyards. The wines are produced under different labels with different qualities or price ranges. For the most part varietals (Unmixed). Around 75 million bottles of Woodbridge produce around three quarters of the wine each year. This brand represents the lowest price segment. The Twin Oaks series, also produced there, is the higher class. Coastal Wines sells inexpensive Californian varietal wines (8.5 million bottles). Wines in the Rhône style (Syrah) are vinified under Io . Under Vichon , young wines from Languedoc are aged in the winery in Oakville (5 million bottles). And under the La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi label, wines are produced from Italian varieties grown in California. In total, the Mondavi empire produces 100 million bottles of wine annually.
From the mid-1980s, Robert Mondavi gradually withdrew from day-to-day business, but retained the function of a "brand ambassador" (brand ambassador). Among other things, he represented the company in the family wineries association PFV (Primum Familiae Vini). However, Mondavi left this illustrious circle in 2005 by selling it to CB. His memoirs were published in 1999 under the title “Harvest of Joy”. Together with his wife Margrit, he founded the "Galeria Copia" in 2001 as the main sponsor in the city of Napa as the "American Center of Wine, Food and the Arts". The aim was to show the public that wine and food can influence culture and contribute to quality of life.
Robert Mondavi was probably a monument during his lifetime. In 1994 he designated his son Michael as chief executive officer, son Timothy became a managing director and daughter Marcia a director. The company was also converted into a listed stock corporation. A major renovation program for the Napa Valley family estate started in 1991. Up to 2001, a modern winery was built, keeping the original architecture, in which, without pumps, the grapes are only moved by gravity, gentle pressing by means of basket presses undertakes and in Barrels fermented from French oak.
At the end of the 1990s, sales problems arose especially with the high-priced top brands, which caused major changes. After Timothy Mondavi retired from management due to internal family disputes in 2003, Ted Hall (who came from the McKinsey management consultancy) was appointed chairman in January 2004, and Michael Mondavi was demoted to second man. A hundred employees were fired. In mid-2004, Mondavis' share ownership was reduced from 85% to 40% through conversion. Shortly thereafter, Michael Mondavi also left the management as Vice President. The family aria was drawing to a close.
As a result, there were rumors that Mondavi should be split up and that they would only concentrate on producing cheap Kosnum wines under $ 15 a bottle. That means, above all, the parent company, the Arrow and Byron wineries, and the holdings in California, Italy and Chile should be sold. In December 2004, Mondavi finally became the world's largest wine company Constellation Brands accepted. The rumored purchase price of $ 1.36 billion illustrates the size. This caused some changes. This is how the former stake in the Luce della Vita and Ornellaia abandoned in Italy and both now from the former partner Frescobaldi completely taken over.