Mondavis Donate $35 Million for Wine and Food Center at UC Davis
Adding to the substantial contributions he has already made to California's wine industry, Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit, yesterday announced a personal gift of $35 million to the University of California, Davis. The funds will be used to establish the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and to finish the campus' new performing arts center, currently under construction.
The Mondavi gift is the largest private contribution ever made to UC Davis and represents one of the most generous single gifts from an individual in the history of the University of California system, according to a university statement. The donation follows the Mondavis' major fund-raising efforts and personal contribution of $20 million to found Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, a cultural facility that is opening in the city of Napa this fall.
Out of the Mondavis' gift to UC Davis, $25 million will go to the construction of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, allowing the university to house its viticulture, enology and food science departments in one facility. The project will encompass 75,000 square feet of space for classrooms, laboratories, offices and meeting rooms; a 36,000-square-foot building for a new teaching and research winery, and 13,000 square feet for a food-processing plant and a brewery. (UC Davis offers the only accredited four-year brewing-science program at a major U.S. university.)
"We've been talking about building a new winery and teaching facility for the last 15 to 18 years, but have been waiting for the spark we needed to get going," said Jim Wolpert, chair of the UC Davis' renowned department of viticulture and enology. "The Mondavis' gift has provided us with that spark." He added, "Robert Mondavi is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only is he generous, but he's a nice guy."
Wolpert noted: "The involvement of food science in the project is not an afterthought. This is an opportunity for us to work with our colleagues in food science to create a truly unique program, and to collaborate on matters of chemistry, microbiology and sensory science. In all these areas, we share similar goals: good food, good wine and good health."
Robert Mondavi said that his lifelong relationship with UC Davis had prompted the donation. "The research work that has taken place at Davis enabled me to learn a lot about winemaking," he said. "I had always hoped I would one day be able to give something back to the department for all they've done for California viticulture."
The remaining $10 million from the Mondavi donation will go toward the completion of what will be named the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The $60.9 million center, which will feature a 1,800-seat auditorium and a 250-seat studio theater, is scheduled to open in October 2002. It will be located in a public complex that will eventually include a visual arts museum, a hotel and conference center, and the existing Buehler Alumni & Visitors Center.
Margrit Mondavi expressed her delight at the idea that "we are able to support a performing arts center, as well as the food and wine institute. Like painting and music, wine and food speak to the heart. By honoring the world of the senses, of memory and emotions, the rites of the table express our humanity."
Speaking at a luncheon at Davis yesterday, California Gov. Gray Davis said that the Mondavis' gift would "benefit the people of California, the students at UC Davis and the UC system immensely" and called the new institute a "fitting legacy of the outstanding contributions of the Robert Mondavi family."
The total cost for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science is expected to run approximately $73 million. The Mondavis' gift, combined with state resources of $35.5 million, will bring the campus within $12 million of achieving its goal. The groundbreaking for the new facility is expected in 2004.
-- Photograph by Debbie Aldridge, IET Mediaworks, UC Davis
Read more about "Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts":
Julia Child Lends Name to Napa Valley's American Center
Wine Spectator Donates $1 Million to New Wine Center
Mondavi Breaks Ground on Center for Wine, Food and Arts
Robert Mondavi Makes Big Donation to Napa Cultural Center