by Robert with Paul Chutkow Mondavi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 8, 1998
The frank, breathless, intriguing autobiography of California's foremost wine zealot. At the age of 52, in 1965, Robert Mondavi punched out his brother and thus ended their partnership as co-owners of the Charles Krug Winery. The dispute was over style and direction. Peter was content; Robert, who had just returned from Europe, wanted less of wine as a mass production business and more wine as art. Banished from Krug, Robert went it alone with a vision--of using Old World methods and traditions with New World technology, research, and innovation--that shook up not only American wine production, but the drinking habits of the nation. So he says, and questions of ego aside, he is not wrong. He had to start from scratch (he had an ace in the hole in purchasing the much-respected To Kalon vineyard); create and educate a market where none existed; learn the rudiments of geography, geology, meteorology, botany, biology, forestry (for barrels), and corkage, for Mondavi is a hands-on man; take bold gambles, such as cold fermentation. There are loving portraits of his parents in these pages, and there are lots of tips on correct business practices, but this book is mostly about his wine--making it, tasting it, selling it, praising it. Mondavi tells his tale with the brio of a man obsessed. Unfortunately, the book is marred (though not fatally) by this relentlessness, a rah-rah self-boosterism: Only he would ""reach for the gold""; his operation ""would need passion, conviction, and courage."" As a wine writer, Robert is no Simon Loftus, but the story has such momentum, and the times were so restless in the California wine world (thanks in large part to the author), that readers will just keep flipping the pages as if propelled. ""Wine is life,"" said Petronius. So too for Robert Mondavi, and he has done right by it, mostly.
Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1998
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Harcourt Brace
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998
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