Robert Mondavi, the pioneering vintner who helped put California wine country on the map, died at his Napa Valley home Friday. He was 94. Mondavi died peacefully at his home in Yountville, Robert Mondavi Winery spokeswoman Mia Malm said.
He was 52 and a winemaking veteran in 1966, when he opened the winery that would help turn the Napa Valley into a world center of the industry. Clashes with a brother that included a fistfight led him to break from the family business to carry out his ambitious plans with borrowed money.
"He had the single greatest influence in this country with respect to high quality wine and its place at the table," wine critic Robert Parker wrote in a chat room posting on his Web site Friday. He called Mondavi "an exceptional man....a true pioneer...a legendary pathfinder"
We'll drink no wine before it's time...it's time.