by Fred McMillin
for June 18, 1999

 

Winery of the Week

Who Am I?


Clues

1) He was born on June 18.

2) He set a world record in 1922. In one day he nailed together 2,000 cases for shipping California wine grapes to the East.

3) One day after starting his own winery, despite his son's hailing travelers along the highway all the visitors for the day totaled THREE. Gloom prevailed.

4) Short of cash, the winery was purchased by a brewery. Gloom continued.

5) Earnings increased. Our hero bought back his winery. He also bought in 1979 the CHEROKEE VINEYARD ASSOCIATION. He changed the name and today it sells over FIVE MILLION cases a year.

Clue

Clue: The "Three Visitor Winery" in the Napa Valley

Do we know who it is yet? If so, you get an A+.

For the rest of us, here are more clues.

6) He was born in Hibbing, Minn.

7) His father was born in northeastern Italy in the town of Sassoferrato.

8) Our mystery man was raised to be generous. Example: In 1951 he supplied 50 pounds of Petite Sirah grapes to Davis Bynum for the first basement Barefoot Bynum vintage.

9) At Stanford, his focus was business, not viticulture. Thus, when the family started a winery, he handled the business side and his brother was winemaker.

10) He knows quite a bit about the Napa Valley. In NAPA WINE, historian Charles Sullivan "thanks for their contibutions Maynard Amarine [UC-Davis], Fred McMillin [thank you], and _________ [our mystery man]."

Enough. He built the first major winery in the Napa Valley after Prohibition. He said, "Making good wine is a skill, making fine wine is an art." Anthony Diaz Blue has called him "the American wine industry's most effective worldwide ambassador." The winery that once had only three visitors is now the biggest producer in the Napa Valley. and when the owner started it, he changed the pronunciation. The family always pronounced it "mon-DAVE-ee"; he changed it to Robert "mon-DAHV-ee." Oh yes, he was born in 1913.


Postscript

That Cherokee Vineyard. It's the Lodi giant, WOODBRIDGE BY ROBERT MONDAVI. When I last checked, out of every 10 bottles Robert sold, the Woodbridge operation supplied SEVEN of them!

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 

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