Saturday, May 17, 2008

how do you thank an icon?

robert mondavi died on friday morning. for those of you who live in the napa valley, you know that this has been front page news for the past three days. the tributes and shared memories are non-stop...this has been the main topic of conversation all weekend. for the rest of you, you have probably heard about his passing on the news..and this may or may not have been a lead story where you live. if it was not..it should have been.

there will be tons of stories about the impact of robert mondavi and his family on the wine industry in this country..especially here in california. he passionately believed that wine produced in california...especially napa..could rival the best wines in the world..and he spent his life proving that assumption to be true. in my opinion...equally important but less publicized...were his philanthropic endeavors. every story i have read about him this weekend has used the word "generosity" when describing his life. when you live in napa..or have the opportunity to visit...the evidence of this fact surrounds you.... so this post spotlights the mondavi legacy of "giving back"

i never had the good fortune to meet the man..but i often saw him and his wife margrit biever mondavi at charity events, art venues and restaurants. two weeks ago, my husband and i attended a concert at the napa opera house. we saw dave brubeck and his band perform. robert and margrit were in the audience seated two rows behind us....margrit in an aisle seat and robert in his wheelchair sitting next to her. the napa opera house is a fantastic historic building which opened on feb 13, 1880. it closed in 1914 due to extensive damage suffered from the 1908 san francisco earthquake. in 1997, robert and margrit mondavi issued a challenge grant of $2.2 million to help jump start the efforts to restore and reopen the theatre...their challenge was met and the theater was restored... the venue is beautiful and, in honor of the mondavi's, was renamed the margrit biever mondavi theatre. during the brubeck concert, margrit was called to the stage after intermission to welcome dave brubeck back to the stage. she graciously thanked all of us for supporting the opera house and for supporting the arts in the community. she received a standing ovation and as she acknowledged her husband the entire audience turned to look at him and give him his own standing ovation. he looked very frail and, frankly, very old..but he was beaming and smiling as the applause went on and on..... little did we know that two weeks later he would be gone. that night, as we were driving the short distance home, i reflected on how much the mondavi's had "given back" to napa. in addition to the opera house, robert mondavi was one of the main leaders who founded auction napa valley. this annual event raises money for non-profits in the napa valley. the first auction was held in 1981 and, to date..almost $80 million has been raised. this year's event..always held in june...should include a pretty massive tribute to the man. the mondavi's gave a $20 million bequest to launch copia, the america center for food, wine and the arts. copia is kind of a museum to food..they have organic gardens with garden tours, food and wine events, art shows, film festivals and concerts. the mondavi's founded the summer music festival, which supports the napa valley symphony and music programs at schools throughout napa. they have been major contributors to the lincoln theater in napa and to the oxbow school..which is a high school focusing on the arts.... they donated to the cantor art center at stanford university and gave $35 million to uc davis to build the mondavi center for the performing arts and the robert mondavi institute for food and wine science. i could go on and on..but you get the idea. regular readers of this blog know that i often like to spotlight individuals, companies and not-for-profit entities that i admire. robert mondavi certainly qualifies for a tribute....so, how do you thank an icon that you never met? for me, i hope that telling people outside of the napa valley about this amazing man is a start. in his name, napa farmhouse 1885™ will give a donation to the napa opera house for each comment made to this blog, or for each email...so please comment often and share your thoughts as to what it means to you to "give back".....

and raise a glass to toast robert mondavi..an american icon....

best,
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™"









6 comments:

Don said...

I have visited the winery during vacations in Napa. Thank you for sharing this side of the man and his family. Good luck with your donations. I hope there are many comments posted to your site. All for a good cause.

ann said...

I volunter for local non-profits whenever I can. My favorite is Project Open Hand. Thank you for your donations to your Opera House. And thank you for telling us about Robert Mondavi.

barry s. from the napa news said...

" " Bob Mondavi was the definition of a visionary, - a person who can stare into the fog of the future an see possibilities. But no singular visionary can achieve anything without inspiring other people to drive toward their vision - and that is the definition of leadership. His vision and leadership has come to define Napa Valley.
His passion for learning and sharing that knowledge created a tradition of striving for excellence both in the field and the cellar. And when he succeeded, both he and Margrit shared with the community.

The most fitting memorial to Bob will be for all of us to insure that his pioneering spirit, drive for excellence, and passion for philanthropy live on. " "

maryann said...

To me, giving back means taking the time to help others without any thought to being paid back or thanked. This could be giving money, food, your time, your ideas, whatever is needed. I try to do something every day to meet the challenge of giving back.

carol said...

Hey,
The simple pleasures in life each day give such joy. Seeing my little 7 week old grandson smile and then he starts to try to coo. That o face is such a riot. Then there is walking out my door today and guess what????? I have a daffodil almost ready to bloom. The color is magnificient. Cheery yellow is always a boost to ones day.
May each of you have a burst of color in your day today that makes you smile.

john said...

glad to hear of the strong response.