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The St. Helena Star reports that there is speculation in the Napa Valley that the Robert Mondavi Wine Co. could be on the sales block. While management at the company says it isn’t true, there are some telltale signs that some sort of change is in the wind.

For one thing, for the first time in the company's almost four decades of existence, a Mondavi isn't running things. Instead, a relatively new board member, Ted Hall, is in charge; Michael Mondavi, who had been running the company, is off on a sabbatical. And the company isn’t answering questions, the paper says, about "movement on the board, future layoffs, who might be running operations, and perhaps most importantly, the strategic plan to right one of the country's high-profile winery companies."
KC's View:
It'd be a shame if something happened to this pioneering company. If you haven't read it, a book worth reading is Robert Mondavi's Harvests of Joy: How The Good Life Became Great Business, a wonderful memoir about the creation of the Napa Valley wine industry that we know today. Mondavi practically invented the upscale California wine industry, and it'd be a shame if something happened to that legacy.

Tell you another story. Not that long ago, we attended a wine event where Michael Mondavi was promoting the family business, chatting up customers and signing bottles of wine. We spoke with him, and mentioned that a couple of years before, we'd taken the family to California on vacation and had taken a tour of the Mondavi winery, which we loved. At the end of the tour, we were treated to a tasting…but only the adults. This annoyed our then-nine-year-old son, Brian, who we've always allowed to have a small sip of whatever wine we happen to be drinking, and who could tell the difference between merlot and cabernet. (Kid has great taste buds.)

Mondavi said that the people at the winery had made a mistake, that Brian could have tasted something…it's just that he had to taste from our glass. He said that he'd let them know for the future, and then asked what year Brian had been born. I told him 1989, and Mondavi then promised to send Brian a bottle of 1989 cabernet from the vineyard.

And he did. That bottle sits in our wine rack…and Brian has decided that if he can't be a baseball player or a broadcaster, then owning a vineyard sounds like a pretty good idea.