A fourth-generation Napa Valley winemaker, Rob Mondavi, Jr.’s enthusiasm for wine began more than 30 years ago. The son of Isabel and Michael Mondavi, Rob was raised in Napa Valley and spent much of his childhood playing among the vines and barrels at Robert Mondavi Winery. Growing up, Rob worked in a variety of roles at the family winery, from vineyards to cellar to hospitality.
An entrepreneur from a young age, he started his own business hosting mountain bike tours through the Napa Valley wine country. After graduating from college, Rob worked in sales with Southern Wine & Spirits, a major distributor of fine wines.
Rob Mondavi Jr. (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Fueled by a desire to learn more about the international business culture, he moved to Panama for a year. When he returned in 1996, he established the Napa Cigar Company, a Napa-based importer of premium cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the Canary Islands. Rob left his cigar business in 2000 to join the Robert Mondavi Corporation. After one year as a luxury brands sales manager, he was promoted to sales director in 2001 with responsibility for developing and managing sales of the company’s imported wines from Australia, Chile and Italy in more than 20 states. After three years in sales, Rob moved home to the Napa Valley and took on the role of director of marketing at Robert Mondavi, spearheading the winery’s trade marketing programs.
Rob Mondavi Jr. & Connie Green (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
In 2004, Rob and his family founded Folio Fine Wine Partners, followed by Michael Mondavi Family Estate in 2006. His role as president of winemaking has enabled him to return to his first passion: today Rob is the winemaker for Isabel Mondavi Wines and Spellbound.
Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Santa Clara University. He is an avid duck hunter and fly fishing enthusiast and resides in the Napa Valley with his wife, Lydia, and their young son.
We ventured 1000 feet above Napa and into the hills overlooking Yountville for our Foodie Chap chat. We met with the Fungi Queen – Connie Green (pictured above) a wonderful woman who Rob credits with teaching him about the earth, mushrooms, truffles. She is indeed a firecracker and is the supplier of all things fungi to her Michelin Star neighbors Chefs Michael Chiarello, Thomas Keller, Christopher Kostow and many more. The wall of enticing aromas that hit us as we entered Connie’s fungi fridge was mind-blowing or nose-exploding!!
Rob returned with me to the kitchen at the Michael Mondavi Family Winery after our visit with Connie. He rustled up a delish gnocchi dish (yes handmade) with black trumpet mushrooms and french black truffles. The lunch was paired with a bottle of Rob’s “Isabel Mondavi” Pinot Noir, an elegant wine with good legs inspired by his mother.
Wine making is in Rob Mondavi Jr’s bones, but so to is passion a steadfast commitment to quality and a love of land and people.
Enjoy the conversation and do yourself a favor and try the knockout gnocchi recipe at home.
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