Harvest—and all of the glorious festivities that go along with it—is in full swing up in Napa. However, as one winery looks forward to it’s 51st annual blessing of the grapes, it’s also taking a moment to honor the past. Tomorrow morning when Robert Mondavi Winery’s director of winemaking, Genevieve Janssens, and general manager, Glenn Workman, gather with Father Gordon Kalil, who is presiding over the blessing, an important figure will be noticeably absent from the ceremony. Less than two weeks ago, Margrit Mondavi, the doyenne of the valley, passed away at age 91. She will be remembered by Janssens, Workman, and the entire Mondavi team in a special Fumé Blanc toast directly after the blessing.
There is much to celebrate about Mrs. Mondavi’s life. She was the second wife to Robert Mondavi, the Napa Valley’s original pioneer and champion of all things viticulture. The couple is credited with transforming the region into what it is today—a world renowned wine and culinary destination. In 1981, Mrs. Mondavi founded the Napa Valley Wine Auction, which is one of the highest grossing wine charity events in the nation. A great philanthropist, she helped restore the Napa Valley Opera House and taught her husband the importance of giving back to the community. The duo launched the now-closed wine museum Copia and donated $35 million to UC Davis to establish a performing arts center and wine and food science center.
Last year for her 90th birthday, a room at the vineyard was renamed in homage to Mrs. Mondavi and all the work she did in her 49 years at the winery. It’s not the only accolade she has received in the past couple of years. This summer’s Festival Napa Valley hosted a tribute to Mrs. Mondavi that Sophia Loren attended. In 2012, she served as the Grand Marshall of Napa’s 4th of July parade. Her annual summer concert series, now in its 47th season, continues to bring top notch musical talent to Napa—this year Blues Traveler and O.A.R played. She was featured in Haute Living magazine twice, once as our cover subject and a second time as a featured women of substance.
Tomorrow after the blessing and toast, which is sure to bring a tear to many eyes, a reception and buffet lunch will follow. The invite-only event promises to be a sophisticated affair that the late great Margrit Mondavi would have been proud of.