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RIP Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi, the man who put California wine on the map, died Friday at his Yountville home in the Napa Valley. He was 94. "The son of an Italian-born grape wholesaler from the Central Valley, Mondavi was, at the end of his life, one of the best-known figures in American viticulture, with a name that was almost synonymous with California wine. His cabernets and chardonnays have been served at the White House and sold by the glass at Disney theme parks. His Cain-and-Abel exile from his family business after a fistfight with his brother was the source of legend...At a time when the phrase "fine domestic wine" was considered an oxymoron in the United States, he insisted that California wine could be positioned as a status symbol -- a strategy that cleared the way for the modern era of $2,000 cult bottles of Screaming Eagle and trophy wineries." [LAT]