By Jessica Yadegaran
Thursday, June 28th, 2007 at 10:14 am in Uncategorized.
It was pretty amazing to witness Margrit Mondavi, that delicate dove of a woman, being inducted into the Women for Wine Sense Hall of Fame on Saturday. She’s the first. As the vice president of culture at Robert Mondavi Winery and co-founder of Copia, she is literally the American pioneer of fusing wine and the arts. Nobody was doing it before she joined the winery in 1967. Before that, she was a tour guide at Charles Krug. She made $2 a day.
Another little know fact about Margrit: she’s quite the artist herself, working with watercolors, crayons and acrylic paints. She applied her talents to commercial design and also created a line of home accessory designs exclusively for Robert Mondavi Winery, including table and kitchen linens, wine sleeves and bottles containing Robert Mondavi Winery’s olive oil and wine vinegar.
But watching her, it’s not these things you think of. Rather, you see that she’s the utter embodiment of joie de vivre, of everything she promotes, good times with wine and food and friends and the arts. The countless people she’s touched and helped, it’s really overwhelming to think about. It looked like she had tears in her eyes during the standing ovation, and each time she got up to thank someone, however painfully, it was a kiss on each cheek. Every time. Always smiling, she’s so graceful and gracious.
The other honorary award, a lifetime achievement, went to Carole Meredith, the retired professor of viticulture and enology at UC Davis. I called her once to decipher the variety and origin of a mystery grape in Lodi that tastes like butterscotch. She’s a plant geneticist and when I tell you what she’s credited with, it’s enough to make your head spin:
1. Carole pioneered the use of fingerprinting to identify grape variety percentages and origin.
2. She first discovered genetic links among Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc in 1996, leading to the conclusion that Cab Sauvignon resulted from a cross between the other two varieties about 300 years ago.
3. She proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo are identical, as well as Charbono and Corbeau.
4. She broke through the mysteries of the origins of Syrah, Chardonnay and Gamay.
She now grows world class Syrah in the Mount Veeder appellation of Napa Valley with her husband Stephen Legier. Their label is Legier-Meredith.