The House of Mondavi
The Rise and Fall of An American Wine DynastyBook - 2007
An epic, scandal-plagued story of the immigrant family that built—and then spectacularly lost—a global wine empire
Set in California’s lush Napa Valley and spanning four generations of a talented and visionary family,The House of Mondavi is a tale of genius, sibling rivalry, and betrayal. From 1906, when Italian immigrant Cesare Mondavi passed through Ellis Island, to the Robert Mondavi Corp.’s twenty-first-century battle over a billion-dollar fortune, award-winning journalist Julia Flynn brings to life both the place and the people in this riveting family drama.
The blood feuds are as spectacular as the business triumphs. Cesare’s sons, Robert and Peter, literally came to blows in the 1960s during a dispute touched off by the purchase of a mink coat, resulting in Robert’s exile from the family—and his subsequent founding of a winery that would set off a revolution in American winemaking. Robert’s sons, Michael and Timothy, as passionate in their own ways as their visionary father, waged battle with each other for control of the company before Michael’s expansive ambitions ultimately led to a board coup and the sale of the business to an international conglomerate.
A meticulously reported narrative based on thousands of hours of interviews, The House of Mondavi is bound to become a classic.
Baker & Taylor
Traces four generations of a Napa Valley wine-making family, from the arrival of Italian immigrant Cesare Mondavi at Ellis Island in 1906, to the scandals that rocked the family throughout the twentieth century, to the battle over the family's billion-dollar fortune.
Blackwell North Amer
The Mondavis were the Kennedys of American wine - a family whose rapid ascent from its hardscrabble past was matched only by its devastating decline. A saga that spans four generations, The House of Mandavi shows how one family built and reigned over America's preeminent wine empire, until their towering achievement crumbled under the weight of sibling rivalry, bitterness, and greed.
Based on more than five hundred hours of interviews, this book presents a full portrait of Robert Mandavi, a tireless trailblazer whose energy won him fabulous wealth and made him the patriarch of an entire industry. But as this obsessively driven promoter of Napa Valley wines pursued his passions, some members of his family were wracked by suicide attempts, alcoholism, and adultery.
The tale, which chronicles the transformation of Napa Valley into one of the world's great wine making regions, begins in 1906, when Italian immigrant Cesare Mandavi landed on Ellis Island and made his way to Minnesota's mines. Cesare started a grape-shipping business and moved his wife and children to California's Central Valley. Their business thrived, allowing them to send their two sons, Robert and Peter, to Stanford. In 1943, the Mondavis bought a derelict winery in Napa Valley. After Cesare's death in 1959, the Mondavi brothers increasingly clashed in their efforts to build the business together until their long-simmering enmity finally erupted into blows. Their barely literate mother, Rosa, meted out harsh old-world justice, banishing Robert from the family enterprise.
Determined to succeed on his own, Robert became the American wine trade's most persuasive pitchman. Over the next four decades, he made Mandavi the first name in American wine and forged partnerships with such wine royalty as the Rothschilds in France and Frescobaldis in Italy, crossing paths with a fabulous cast of characters. To assure succession at his own family business, he named his sons Michael and Timothy as co-CEOs, leaving others to mediate between the quarreling brothers. Amidst eccentric personalities, scandals, and feuds, the family took their company public in 1993. With Timothy marginalized, Michael pushed for business expansion in a frantic effort to fill his father's shoes. When his efforts backfired, the independent directors staged a coup, leading to the breakup and forced sale of Robert Mandavi's billion-dollar dream. A balanced and detailed account of one family's rise and fall, The House of Mondavi is also a quintessentially American tragedy of an overstretched business empire brought to the brink by hubris.
Traces four generations of a Napa Valley wine-making family, from the arrival of Italian immigrant Cesare Mondavi at Ellis Island in 1906, to the scandals that rocked the family throughout the twentieth century, to the present-day battle over the family's billion-dollar fortune. First serial, Wall Street Journal.