Robert Mondavi invited me to Oakville in the Napa Valley in 1997. I will never forget the experience because of the subjects we talked about; life, good food and of course wine.
One of the events I attended was a dinner on the patio of Opus One. Although there were about 40 guests in attendance I managed to sit next to Robert during dinner. On the other side was his gracious and lovely wife Margrit.
During the four course dinner, with magnums of rare Mondavi reserve vintages being poured freely by pairs of waiters, he discussed the importance of family.
He was not bitter that his mother and brother sued him in court because he wanted to take their winery in another direction. He looked at life as a journey of discovery and a large part was the enjoyment that good wine and food add to our lives.
I had thought that someone of his stature would be arrogant and superior but he was the opposite engaging, inclusive and sharing. Robert made me feel at home, like one of his family.
The message that Robert shared with me was to love your family and your friends, and enjoy good food and wine, because life is too short to do otherwise.
That is something that I will always remember.
(Robert Mondavi passed away in 2008 at the age of 93).
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