The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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Page 73 of 132

june 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  73 here are few people who have so dramatically impacted the wine industry as Robert Mondavi, whose eponymous winery turns 50 this year. Owner Constellation Wines is honoring this milestone throughout 2016 with a series of events, includ- ing a special gala commemorating the occasion this past April. Many of those close to Mr. Mondavi and to the winery gathered to celebrate, a testament to the role Robert Mondavi Winery played in launching the careers of many California winemaking greats, including Warren Winiarski, Zelma Long and Paul Hobbs, who figured among those in attendance. For 50 years, the wines at Robert Mondavi have followed Mr. Mondavi's vision of producing wine among the great wines of the world, defined by their elegance, concen- tration and terroir, and the evening was a tribute to the singular vision of the man who put the New World on the map. As Long, who was with the winery from 1970 to 1979, noted, "He was always looking at the next new thing, a new way to make wine, new grapes from somewhere, new vineyard techniques." 1966 was the first vintage produced, and one of the night's special moments occurred as glasses of this wine were poured and a gentleman stood up: "My name is Warren Winiarski, and I made this wine." Following a rousing round of applause, Winiarski, who went on to found Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, reminisced about the early days: "We worked to crush the grapes, and we had sawdust flying in the air, and we had plumbers that were climbing on our backs to finish the piping in the tanks, and we had painters who were painting, and as I smell this bottle, it's all coming back to me . . . we were all competing for our little mess in order to get our work done, but we got it done, and you have it here, 50 years later. Never in my mind did I think I would be tasting this wine again." Margrit Mondavi, who was with the winery since its inception and later married Robert Mondavi in 1980, recalled that "It was a very romantic time at Robert Mondavi, and somehow we slithered out of it and built probably one of the most fabulous facilities for winemaking in the world." The evening turned to personal remembrances, with long-time friends and former colleagues honoring Mr. Mondavi's spirit of progress and evolution, speaking of his great character and of his ability to bring to fruition a place where he could make and talk about wine with a passion. 1966 was the first vintage pro- duced by Robert Mondavi Winery, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Robert Mondavi's vision was to produce wine among the world's greats. Margrit Mondavi with Warren Winiarski at the 50 Years, 50 Bottles gala honoring Robert Mondavi Winery's 50th anniversary. PHOTO: MJ WICKHAM PHOTO: MJ WICKHAM PHOTO: MJ WICKHAM

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