Robert Mondavi ‘Private Selection’ and Napa Valley Wines and Ravenswood Zinfandels

As wineries grow in repute and size, increased investment is necessary, leading to taking on more partners, or take over by larger companies. For many loyal followers of the initial set-ups, they see a loss of personality or control, and often a drop in quality of the wines. However, the scenario of better quality is often the case, as greater funding allows positive growth. The astute new owner tries to retain the character, style and quality of the wines, as well as the essential and usually founding personnel, and will ensure that there is continued progress.

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1996 in Oakville in the Napa Valley. Through the enviable energy and enthusiasm of Robert Mondavi, his winery came to represent the essence of the Napa Valley with its best wines of Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon footing it with the best wines in the world. Such was the quality that Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild formed a joint venture with Mondavi to create ‘Opus One’. Following considerable growth and family ownership issues, Constellation Brands acquired Robert Mondavi in 2004. The winemaker is Genevieve Janssens, first working at Robert Mondavi in 1978, retaining her Director of Winemaking role there since 1997. Robert Mondavi Winery celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

Joel Petersen and Reed Foster established the Sonoma Zinfandel variety specialist Ravenswood Winery in 1976. Their credo of ‘No Wimpy Wines’ and the quality of the wines quickly led to an enormously strong following. Although the Zinfandel ‘Single Vineyard Designates’ are the most sought-after wines, Ravenswood makes a surprisingly large range of white and red wines. Constellation Brands purchased Ravenswood in 2001 when the production had grown to over 400,000 cases. Joel Petersen remains as the general manager, and the wines still retain a very strong and loyal clientele worldwide due to their style and quality.

Here, I review a selection of Robert Mondavi wines under the ‘Private Selection’ and ‘Napa Valley’ tiers, and two Ravenswood Zinfandels. All of the wines are distributed and available in New Zealand through Constellation Brands.


  • Robert Mondavi ‘Private Selection’ California Chardonnay 2015
  • Robert Mondavi ‘Private Selection’ California Pinot Noir 2015
  • Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2013
  • Robert Mondavi Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2012
  • Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
  • Ravenswood ‘Vintner’s Blend’ California Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
  • Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel 2013

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