The Robert Mondavi Winery is the best known winery in California, and with good reason. The late Robert Mondavi, who died in 2008, was Napa Valley’s most passionate ambassador and the maker of some of the valley’s very best wines. His Italian immigrant parents moved from Minnesota to Napa Valley to grow fruit, and by the 1960s they owned and operated the Charles Krug Winery. But after a feud with his brother and mother in 1966, when Robert was already in his 50s, Robert left the Krug winery and struck out on his own. He was determined to make fine wines – not the jug wines California was mostly known for at the time – and by the 1970s his Cabernet Sauvignons were impressing connoisseurs in the U.S. and Europe. Today the winery is no longer owned by the Mondavi family, though its wines continue to win high praise. Robert Mondavi Winery owns 1,540 acres in Napa Valley and its premiere wines are Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Reserve.
Oakville AVA is one of the two or three most prestigious appellations in the United States. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, its 5,000 vineyard acres produce some of the world’s most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, including such California “cult” Cabs as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. Before those boutique producers rose to fame in the 1990s, Oakville was already renowned as home to Robert Mondavi, Opus One and Groth Vineyards, among others. Along with the famous wineries, there are premier vineyards in this AVA, including Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard. To Kalon was first planted in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, one of California’s first viticultural researchers, and he named the vineyard after the ancient Greek phrase for “most beautiful.” Though many grapes can be successfully grown in Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. Merlot and Chardonnay are also frequently planted. Oakville Cabs are prized for their richness, complexity and weight. Oakville was designated as an AVA in 1993.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.