As I’ve driven around Napa and Sonoma counties the past few days in the wake of Robert Mondavi’s death, I’ve noticed how many American flags have been hanging at half mast.
It’s impossible to know whether these flags have been lowered in his memory or to honor fallen soldiers or in tribute to anyone else, but I’m heartened by how many of the people I’ve talked to about Mr. Mondavi who genuinely appreciated what he brought and gave to Napa Valley.
I’m talking about people I know who aren’t in the wine business, what I’d call rank-and-file Napans who live here, know it’s famous for its wines, yet somehow take in stride the natural beauty of wine country and the bounty that wine has given this community.
I’m glad too that I haven’t heard people complain that Mr. Mondavi got more publicity than he deserved. Oh, I’m sure many people still feel that way. I can recall many vintners over the years being agitated by the fact that Mondavi often seemed to grab, or steal, the headlines when others thought they might have been more deserving.
Most of this, of course, was pure jealousy, which is to be expected in an industry where so many people wear their egos on their labels. But Mr. Mondavi, for all the deserving accolades and enduring memories, paid a price for his fame and public life. It was not always a harvest of joy.
Today there is a private memorial service for him at Copia and there are still plans for a public celebration of his life, probably in June, which could end up being a Napa Valley version of Woodstock. I wonder whether Oakville, and Constellation, which owns Mondavi’s winery, is ready for 10,000 of Bob Mondavi’s fans to pay their final respects.
Loren Lingerfelter — Danville, CA — May 21, 2008 6:22pm ET
Greg Gregory — Atlanta, GA — May 26, 2008 7:35am ET
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