Robert Mondavi Winery Free Party Says “Cheers” to 50 Years!

Robert Mondavi Winery 50th AnniversaryLong before I was Wine Oh and Chief, and got the occasional “What the F am I doing with my life?” blues, I would remind myself of something I once read in an inspirational book: “Robert Mondavi didn’t create the Robert Mondavi Winery until he was 53 years old!!!” Isn’t that amazing?

The late Mr. Mondavi, founded the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966 and changed the future of American fine wine forever. Five decades later, his dream is still going strong. So, the next time you are down in the dumps about what you “shoulda, coulda, woulda” done if only you had more time. Remember greatness can be achieved at any age.

Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking
Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking

On June 14, 2016, I was invited to Robert Mondavi Winery to wine and dine with Genevieve Janssens. The Director of Winemaking, hosted an intimate winery lunch to celebrate the Robert Mondavi Winery’s 50th Anniversary.  The wine-tasting highlighted some of the winery’s best vintages from the past five decades. The wines were paired to perfection with a lunch prepared by winery chef Jeff Mosher.

In the above video, you will see some of the sights and sounds from our afternoon at the Napa Valley winery. Genevieve took us on a trip back in time with the wines and with her words. As she shared stories about working alongside Robert Mondavi for over three decades.

Here are some of the highlights from the wines we were lucky enough to taste!

Robert Mondavi Winery


I-Block Fume Blanc Reserve: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014 aka the “earthquake” vintage.

According to winemaker Joe Harden,  Robert Mondavi Winery’s high end and reserve wines were not impacted by the earthquake. However, some of their Napa Valley wines were.

“The earthquake happened at 2am. By 3am all of our employees were here.” Joe Harden – Winemaker

Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: 1966, 1971, 1985, 1998, 2000. The 1998 was Genevieve Janssens’ first vintage

“The 1998 vintage is flirting with you. For me it’s still flirting” Genevieve Janssens – Director of Winemaking

Robert Mondavi Winery 50 Anniversary2014 Fume Blanc $20 “Mr. Mondavi wanted to create a Sauvignon Blanc that reflected Napa Valley. He was able to produce a richer style with the brightness of Sauvignon Blanc. Fume Blanc is the symbol of Mr. Mondavi’s innovation.” Genevieve Janssens – Director of Winemaking

2015 Robert Mondavi Winery Harvest of Joy Rosé $35 100% Valdiguie aka Napa Gamay. Margrit Mondavi drew the rose on the bottle

Robert Mondavi Winery 50 Anniversary2013 Robert Mondavi Maestro $50 Special 50th Anniversary blend: 59% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec “Maestro is a serious wine with a humble soul. It celebrates both Robert Mondavi’s work, and his wisdom.” Genevieve Janssens – Director of Winemaking

2002 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis “Our Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis is an opulent and complete sweet wine reminiscent of the great wines of Sauternes.” Genevieve Janssens – Director of Winemaking

Robert Mondavi Winery 50th Anniversary Celebration

2016 rings in a very special new year as it’s the 50th anniversary of the Robert Mondavi Winery. All year, they will celebrate the man whose passion and determination brought California wine to the world, and whose ambition continues to inspire us today.

You’re invited to join the anniversary party! It’ll be a festive day and everyone’s welcome for live music, cooking and art demonstrations, wine tastings, and entertainment.

Date: July 16, 2016
Time: 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: Robert Mondavi Winery, 7801 St. Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA 94562
Cost: Complimentary
Parking: Free but space is very limited – first come first served

Anniversary Party Events Include:

  • Winery Tours of the To Kalon Cellar and barrel room
  • Cooking Demonstrations from Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, Chef Bob Hurley, Chef Victor Scargle, and Chef Giovanni Guerrera

Wine Tastings

  • Wine Seminars with on-site wine educators
  • Horse-and-buggy rides through the To Kalon Vineyard
  • Painting Demonstration by Channing Rudd
  • Musical Entertainment from Ballet Folklorico el Valle St. Helena, River School
  • World Percussion, Shelby Lanterman, and Full Chizel
  • Be advised this is a free event and certain to fill up fast – be sure to arrive early.

Robert Mondavi Winery Timeline

  1. 1913 Robert Gerald Mondavi born in Minnesota to Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi.
  2. 1919 Cesare Mondavi first travels to California to buy grapes for Italian community back east. Two years later, he relocates the family to Lodi, California.
  3. 1936 Robert Mondavi graduates from Stanford University and goes to work at Sunnyhill Winery in St. Helena, California.
  4. 1943 Robert Mondavi convinces his father to buy Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, founded in 1861, and start a family wine business.
  5. 1966 Robert Mondavi and his family open Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Napa Valley, with R. Michael Mondavi as winemaker. Winery designed by Cliff May, who also designed headquarters for Sunset magazine in Menlo Park, California; first crush on September 6.
  6. 1967 First sales of Robert Mondavi Winery wines; Chenin Blanc at $2.00 a bottle.
  7. 1968 Robert Mondavi introduces Fumé Blanc (1966 vintage). He coined the name to distinguish his dry-fermented oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc from the sweeter-style Sauvignon Blanc.
  8. Robert Mondavi Winery private dining room, the Vineyard Room, and tasting rooms open. Robert Mondavi Winery Summer Music Festival concert series debuts as fundraiser for Napa Valley Symphony.
  9. 1971 Robert Mondavi Winery unfined Cabernet Sauvignon, the Reserve of its time, first labeled with the Reserve designation. Art exhibits begin in Vineyard Room.
  10. 1972 Robert Mondavi Winery export program begins.
  11. 1973 Robert Mondavi Winery Winter Classical concert series begins.
  12. 1974 Introduction of White and Red Table Wine from Robert Mondavi Winery begins at Oakville (known as “Bob White” and “Bob Red”). Tim Mondavi joins winemaking team.
  13. 1976 Robert Mondavi Winery hosts the Great Chefs of France program.
  14. 1979 Robert Mondavi introduces his pioneering collaboration with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Opus One Winery in Oakville.
  15. 1980 Introduction of vintage-dated Robert Mondavi Winery White, Red and Rosé table wines.
  16. 1981 Robert Mondavi and other vintners launch Napa Valley Wine Auction. Robert co-founds the American Institute of Wine and Food with Julia Child and Richard Graff.
  17. 1982 Robert Mondavi calls for fellow vintners to unite around a consumer education program.
  18. 1983 Robert Mondavi Winery highlights American chefs, adding the Great Chefs of America series to the Great Chefs of France.
  19. 1984 Cyril Ray publishes biography of Robert Mondavi.
  20. 1986 The Great Chefs programs (France and America) merge as the Great Chefs at the Robert Mondavi Winery.
  21. 1988 Robert Mondavi launches Mission Program to address public opinion about wine consumption.
  22. 1989 Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Center established in Costa Mesa, California.
  23. 1993 Robert Mondavi goes public and issues first stock offering (traded on NASDAQ: MOND). Revolutionary flange-top, capsule-free bottle design introduced. Robert Mondavi family joins Primum Familiae Vini (First Families of Wine) as the only American member.
  24. 1996 Seasons of the Vineyard cookbook, written by Robert, his wife Margrit Biever and Carolyn Dille, published by Simon & Schuster.
  25. Robert Mondavi’s autobiography, Harvests of Joy: My Passion for Excellence, is published by Harcourt Brace & Company.
  26. Robert and his wife Margrit make a personal donation to Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, a wine and culinary center they helped launch a decade earlier.
  27. First crush at the new gravity-flow To Kalon Fermentation Cellar at Robert Mondavi Winery.
  28. 2002 Robert Mondavi honored by the California State Assembly for his lifetime contributions to the California wine industry.
  29. 2003 Robert Mondavi celebrates his 90th birthday on June 18, at a party in his honor at Robert Mondavi Winery.
  30. 2004 Constellation Brands purchases Robert Mondavi Corp. with the goal of keeping the company—and Robert Mondavi’s vision—intact. Robert Mondavi Winery becomes part of the Icon Estates Fine Wine Portfolio under Constellation Brands.
  31. 2005 Robert Mondavi receives Ellis Island Family Heritage Award, in recognition of his contributions to the American experience. France honors Robert with Legion d’Honneur, that country’s highest Presidential honor, for his work to establish a strong relationship between the wine industries of France and the United States. Robert Mondavi becomes first recipient of the Vinexpo Lifetime Achievement award.
  32. 2006 Robert Mondavi Winery celebrates 40 years. 100 years since Cesare Mondavi, father of Robert Mondavi arrived at Ellis Island.
  33. 2007 Robert Mondavi is honored as the first “Pioneer” inductee in the founding year of the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.
  34. 2007 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces Robert Mondavi’s induction into the California Hall of Fame at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts.
  35. 2007 Robert Mondavi Winery adds Discover Wine Tour. The nationwide tour serves to educate consumers about food, wine and appropriate wine pairings through a highly interactive approach. It includes wines from Robert Mondavi Private Selection and Robert Mondavi Winery portfolios. Discover Wine with Robert Mondavi fulfills the late Mr. Mondavi’s vision of enriching life by embracing wine, food and the arts as an integral part of gracious living.
  36. 2008 Robert Mondavi passes away peacefully at home on May 16, at the age of 94.
  37. 2013 On June 18th, 2013 Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday is celebrated.
  38. 2016 Robert Mondavi Winery celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2016 with the release of a 50th Anniversary wine called Maestro in April, a commemorative 50th Anniversary label and a series of 50th Anniversary-themed tastings and programs throughout the year. On
  39. July 16, Robert Mondavi Winery hosts its 50th Anniversary Celebration Day at the winery.

Robert Mondavi Winery Winemaker History 1966 to Present

Note: From 1966, RMW winemakers have been called enologists, varietal program managers, assistant winemakers, associate winemakers, and since 2004, they are called winemakers, however all have had similar responsibilities

  1. Warren Winiarski
    RMW Title: Chief enologist and first winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery
    RMW Dates: 1966 to 1968
    Current Position: Retired
    Notable position after RMW: Owner, Stags Leap Wine Cellar
  2. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
    RMW Title: Chief enologist
    RMW Dates: 1968 to 1972
    Current Position: Owner, Grgich Hills Estate
  3. Zelma Long
    RMW Titles: Lab tech, assistant enologist, chief enologist/winemaker following Mike Grgich
    RMW Dates: September 1970 to July 1979
    Current Position: International Consultant; Winemaker, Owner of Vilafonte in South Africa
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker and CEO of Simi Winery (1979 to 1999); winemaker, owner Long Vineyards
  4. Dave Henry
    RMW Position: Assistant Enologist
    Dates: Spring 1972 through harvest 1975
    Current Position: Retired
    Notable Positions after RMW: Senior Production Administrator, Trinchero Family Estates (2001 to 2016); Sebastiani (1988 to 2001); Winery Manager, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Winery (1978 to harvest 1987); Winemaker, Souverain Winery (1975-1978).
  5. Michael Weiss
    RMW Position: Experimental Enologist in charge of research
    RMW Dates: June 1973 to June 1975
    Current Position: Winemaker/Winemaker Emeritus, Groth Winery 1994 to Present
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker, Vichon Winery (May 1985 to July 1993); Winemaker, San Antonio Winery (1975 to 1984)
  6. Tim Mondavi
    RMW Title: Always humble, he just called himself “winegrower” (However, he oversaw grapegrowing and winemaking at RMW for three decades)
    RMW Dates: technically 1974 to 2004, although active in the winery before he received his degree in enology from UCD in 1974
    Current Position: Owner, Winemaker at Continuum Winery
  7. Richard Arnold
    RMW Titles: Research enologist, research manager, winemaker, senior winemaker
    RMW Dates: 1974 (internship), 1976 to 2016 (present)
    Current Title: Senior Winemaker/Consultant to Robert Mondavi Winery
    Other notable positions: Robert Mondavi Winery Senior Winemaker Winemaker, (1992 to 1996 and 2003 to 2016); Research Enologist and Research Manager (1976-1992 and 1993-1999) RMW Intern (1974)
  8. Bob Mueller
    RMW Position: Director of Enology
    RMW Dates: 1974 (cellar) to 1989; Consultant: 1989 to 1992
    Current: Owner: McKenie Mueller Winery (1987 to Present)
    Began in the cellar in 1974, became winemaker for SB, CH, PN and ME and ended as director of enology. Involved in early years of Opus One tastings with Château Mouton Rothschild winemakers.
  9. Dawnine Dyer
    RMW Title: Lab tech
    RMW Date: 1974 (hired by Zelma Long)
    Current Position: Owner, Dyer Straits Wine Co. (1993 to present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Vice President and Winemaker, Domaine Chandon 1976-1999
  10. Kristi Koford
    RMW Position: Winemaker (whites)
    Dates at RMW: 1974 to 1984
    Current Position: Director of Winemaking, Napa Wine Company
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker at Alderbrook Winery; Assistant Winemaker, St. Supery
    Involved in development of computer program to record information
  11. Charles Thomas

  12. RMW Positions: Several, culminating in Head Winemaker
    RMW Dates: 1975 through harvest of 1994
    Current Position: Owner, Thomas-Hsi Vineyards (2007 to present); Partner, Longtable Wines (2010 to present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Senior VP, Vineyards & Winemaking, Quintessa, Huneeus Vintners; VP, Director of Vineyards and Winemaking, Rudd Winery (2002-2007); Senior VP, Winegrowing, Jackson Family Fine Wines (1994 to 2002)
  13. Genevieve Janssens
    RMW Title: Director of Winemaking (1997 to current)
    RMW Dates: 1978 to present
    Other notable positions: Winemaker/owner Portfolio Limited Edition Wines (1998 to present) Opus One Director of Production (1989-1997) RMW lab tech (1978-1979)
  14. Paul Hobbs
    RMW Title: Varietal Program Manager/Winemaker
    RMW Dates: 1977 to December 1984
    Current Position: Owner, Winemaker at Paul Hobbs Winery in Sonoma and Vina Cobos in Argentina.
  15. Ken Shyvers
    RMW Position: Microbiologist, Winemaker, Director of Winemaking
    RMW Dates: 1978 to 2000
    Current Position: Sr. VP Innovation and Project Funding at ERB Enterprises, LLC
    Notable Positions after Robert Mondavi Corporation: VP, Central Coast Winemaking; Diageo Château and Estate Wines (July 2006 to June 2010); VP, Winemaking, Icon Estates/Constellation (2000 to June 2006)
  16. Patrick Mahaney
    Titles at RMW: Research Intern (1980), Varietal Program Manager, director of winemaking; VP Global Wine Quality (2000-2004)
    Dates at RMW: July 1982 to 2004
    Current position: Consulting Viticulturist and Winemaker, Expression Wine
    Other positions held after RMW: Director, Vineyard Marketing, Premier Pacific Vineyards 2006-2012
  17. Jim Moore
    RMW Title(s): Several, culminating in Varietal Program Manager, Assistant Winemaker (essentially winemaker)
    RMW Dates: September 1979 to July 1998
    Current Position: Owner/Winemaker Uvaggio li Giacomo, Wine Company and “Campo Wines (2008 to present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Director of Winemaking for Bonny Doon Vineyard, winemaker for Ca’ del Solo in Santa Cruz
  18. Russ Rosner
    RMW Title: Senior Enologist
    RMW Date: September 1983 to June 1993
    Current Position: Retired
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker for Van Duser and Bighorn Ranch (1994-1996), Kendal-Jackson (1996-1997), Sokol Blosser, Oregon (1998-2012).
    Fun facts: Involved in development of crushing and small-lot fermentation facility for Pinot Noir at RMW Huichica Hills Vineyard; managed oak barrel program
  19. Jeff Booth
    RMW Position: Enologist/assistant winemaker
    RMW Dates: August 1984 to August 1985
    Current Position: Consulting winemaker
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker for Conn Creek Winery and Glen Ellen Winery
  20. Karen Culler
    RMW Title: Intern, Enology Research,
    RMW Dates: 1984 to 1986
    Current Position: Retired winemaker, Culler Wines (1997 to 2012),
    Notable Positions after RMW: Assistant winemaker (1986 to 1989) and winemaker (1989 to 1996) at Vichon Winery (owned by Robert Mondavi). Karen has also consulted for Anselmo Vigne, Ladera Vineyards, Renteria Wines, Riviera Vineyards, and Wolf Family Vineyards.
  21. Heather Pyle
    RMW Position: Enologist; Varietal Program Manager (winemaker) for Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon
    RMW Dates: August 1, 1985 to May 31, 2001
    Current Position: Owner, Tangles Winery and Vineyards; Winemaker, The Lucas Winery; Consultant for several small brands
    Past Positions: Winemaker, La Famiglia Winery (Robert Mondavi)
  22. Steve Lagier
    RMW Titles: Lab supervisor, Wine Production Planner
    RMW Dates: May 1985-1990 (lab supervisor), 1990-1994 (production planner
    Current position: Owner, winemaker of Lagier-Meredith Winery (first vines planted in 1994; first vintage 1998) with spouse, Carole Meredith (UC Davis professor who pioneered use of DNA fingerprinting in identifying grape varieties.)
    Other positions held: Winemaker, Robert Mondavi Coastal Wines (May 1994 to 1999).
  23. John Willumson
    RMW Positions: Lab and enology: 1987 to 1992; Winemaker: 1992 to 1996; Operations Manager: 1996 to 1999
    RMW Dates: 1987 to 1999
    Notable Positions after RMW: Director of Valley Winemaking for The Wine Group (1999 to 2016)
  24. Michael Eckstein
    RMW Titles: Enologist, Winemaking Production Manager
    RMW Dates: 1988 to 1998
    Current Position: Associate Winemaker, Grgich Hills Estate (2013-present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker, Franciscan Estate (2007-2013); Assistant Winemaker, Franciscan Estate (2007-2013); Assistant Winemaker, Rudd Winery (1999-2006)
  25. Steve Leveque
    RMW Title: Winemaker (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)
    RMW Dates: July 1992 to Aug. 2003
    Current Position: Director of Winemaking, Hall Wines
    Notable Positions after RMW: VP, Winemaker, Chalk Hill Winery
  26. Janet Myers
    RMW Title: Intern, RMW resarch
    RMW Date: Harvest 1993
    Current Position: Director of Winemaking / General Manager, Franciscan Estate & Mount Veeder Winery (2003 to present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Assistant winemaker, Louis Martini Winery (1999 to 2003), harvest internships at Pierro Vineyard, Australia; Marchesi Antinori, Italy (1995)
  27. Gustavo Gonzales
    RMW Positions: Lab tech, Winemaker (reds)
    RMW Dates: Aug.1995 to May 2012
    Current Position: Winemaker, Mira Winery
    Notable Positions after RMW: Consultant
  28. Richard Sowalski
    RMW Title: Associate Winemaker (Bordeaux varieties)
    RMW Dates: 1998 to 2004
    Current Position: Winemaker Blue Apron
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker, Clos Pegase (2010-2016) Winemaker, William Hill (2005-2007)
  29. Erick Schultz
    RMW Position: Intern, Research Department
    RMW Dates: harvest intern 2000
    Current Position: Senior Winemaker, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Winery 2001 to present.
  30. Brooks Painter
    RMW Position: Winemaking Operations Manager, Winemaking Technical Manager
    RMW Dates: 2001 to 2005
    Current Position: Director of Winemaking, Castello di Amorosa, V. Sattui Winery (2005 to present)
    Notable Positions after RMW: Winemaker/Owner, Coho Wines (2002 to 2014); Assistant winemaker, Stags Leap Wine Cellars (2001 to 2003)
  31. Megan Schofield
    RMW Title: Winemaker
    RMW Dates: March 2015 to present (focus on Burgundian varieties)
    Positions before RMW: Winemaker, Simi Winery; assistant winemaker, Buena Vista Winery; enologist, Beringer Winery; lab tech, RH Phillips; cellar intern; Inniskillin Winery
  32. Joe Harden
    RMW Title: Intern, Winemaker (focus on Bordeaux varieties)
    RMW Dates: February 2012 to Present
    Positions held at RMW: Internship consisted of several months each in vineyards, cellar and lab. Promoted to winemaker on March 1, 2015.

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