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Robert Mondavi dies aged 94

Published:  23 July, 2008

Robert Mondavi, the highly respected and pioneering Napa Valley Vintner, has died aged 94.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 16 at his home in California.

The son of Italian immigrants, he graduated from Stanford in 1936 and joined his father at Sunnyhill Winery in St. Helena. He later convinced his father to purchase the Charles Krug Winery where he harnessed new technology in the production process to raise quality.

He established the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966, aged 53, and pioneered a number of fine winemaking techniques in California such as cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks and the use of French oak barrels.

Mondavi wines flourished in the 70s and the company expanded through international partnerships with the Frescobaldi family in Italy and Eduardo Chadwick of Vina Errazuriz in Chile. The company was ultimately bought by Constellation Brands in 2004.

Robert Mondavi, a generous philanthropist, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2007.

Jancis Robinson MW paid tribute to Mondavi's impact on the wine industry.

She said: "The California wine scene would be immeasurably different today without the pivotal role played by this great, generous man.

"He was a massive force for good not just in California wine but in the entire world of wine."

He leaves three children from his first marriage to Marjorie Declusin. He remarried in 1980 to Margrit Biever, who had worked at the Robert Mondavi Winery since the late 1960s.