Robert Mondavi, California wine king, dies at 94

Other News Materials 17 May 2008 03:04 (UTC +04:00)

Robert Mondavi, who pioneered the rise of California wines, died Friday at his home in the Napa Valley region that made him famous, dpa reported.

Mondavi had become increasingly frail in recent years, and died peacefully at his home, a family spokesman said.

The son of Italian immigrants, Mondavi was the first wine-maker to successfully challenge the dominance of European wines and establish Napa Valley as one of the world's premier wine regions.

He founded his own vineyard Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966, at the age of 52 after being kicked out of his family-owned winery. Using new techniques like temperature controlled stainless steel drums for fermentation, and employing adventurous young winemakers it took the charismatic Mondavi just ten years to reach his goal when his cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay won at the famous Paris tasting of 1976.

His winery was also a thriving business until it encountered financial difficulties from over-expansion and was sold to conglomerate Constellation Brands for 1.3 billion dollars in 2004.