Napa Valley and Robert Mondavi, one and the same breath
Yesterday in the Napa Register, the local newspaper, was a great article by L. Pierce Carson about Margrit Mondavi, A biographical ‘Sketchbook’, which set me thinking of my past encounters with her legendary husband, Robert Mondavi, and my nearly 40 years being here in the Napa Valley. Here are a few excerpts from his article:
Robert Mondavi was the love of her life, Margrit, who is approaching her 87th birthday, …
“Bob and I fell in love — we were attracted to one another,” Margrit says. “But I was not going to be his mistress.” They knew they wanted to be together and spent countless hours thinking how that could be accomplished.
“I really did not marry Bob for his money,” she comments in the sketchbook, “but it’s what came along. I always told him that I would go with him to the end of the world. We could grow grapes and start over again. Bob was very conscious of time, that life is not forever. When I would ask him what he wanted for his birthday, he would say, ‘I want nothing to change.’”
Margrit said she feels that the Robert Mondavi name itself will keep his memory alive. “Bob was a man who wanted to know everything — he was more than curious. People who are interesting to me always ask questions.
The first time I met Robert and his wife was at the truly local’s dining spot appropriately named, The Diner. No this wasn’t your average normal greasy spoon but more a yuppies eatery serving healthy, wholesome food to many of the locals and a few visitors who were lucky enough to get a seat. Renown for their breakfasts, The Dinner lasted till 2001 when it closed and sold and was eventually bought by Thomas Keller who opened Ad Hoc there, another extremely popular Yountville dining spot.
Through the years I ran across Robert maybe a dozen times. I had a very good friend, Mark Power who knew Robert well, who invited me to the Mondavi home, known as Wapoo Hill, once many years ago for a political fund raiser. Their home was sold at auction last year for a price of nearly 14 million dollars.
Always gracious, my encounters with Robert and his wife where more of an acknowledgement of us both being locals for he was in the wine making business and I selling real estate. The most notiable meeting was when I attended the Ella Fitzgerald concert at the annual Mondavi summer concert series in the early 1980’s. Right after saying hello to them, I arrived late but managed a seat right at the corner of the stage and was fortunate enough to have Ella come right up to me and skat to me as if I was the only one there.
Yes, it has been a very wonderful 40 years here, filled with many memories and a few voids. My biggest empty space being the loss of my best friend to an automobile accident 8 years ago and the passing of several notable people with Robert being right there at the top of the list. It made me think of my past here, my 7 years of having gift shops in the Vintage Rail Cars, my learning to fly hot air balloons, the closing of Copia, Robert’s dream of a world class center for food and wine, and more.
Yes, this has become my home which can be best described as living in an enclave as near to heaven as one can dare. My final conclusion is one filled with wonderful memories and looking forward to the next 40 years of living in this near utopia, Yountville, the heart of the Napa Valley. If you ever visit, please stop by and say hello, I have a few more stories to bend your ear with.
Thank you for reading this post. If I can ever be of help in finding you the perfect property here in the Napa Valley, please email me at Curtis@NapaValleyAddress.com