To Be Continued
Category: Forbes Life By : Justin Doebele Read : 79 Date : Thursday, December 07, 2017 - 08:42:56




Courtesy of Tim Mondavi

Tim Mondavi, 67, has one of the most storied last names in the global wine industry. His father was the late Robert Mondavi, the son of Italian immigrants, who pioneered California’s Napa Valley as the home of some of the world’s finest wines. Tim and his elder brother Michael helped their father start Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966, when he was just 15. In 1974, we joined full-time, prophetically, as the winemaker. In a rare visit to Jakarta, Tim hosted a small group of wine lovers for a casual lunch at Monty’s restaurant in the Senopati area.

The goal of the Mondavis was to make wine from Napa Valley that could compete with the best of European wines. The family got some vindication—one of many—in the Grand European Jury Wine Tasting of 1997, when a Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve took the top prize for a white wine. In 2004, Tim’s father sold his eponymous label to U.S.’s Constellation Brand in a controversial takeover.

The family almost immediately launched a new brand, Continuum Estate, meant to be a limited production, high quality wine. “Continuum started at the very top,” says Tim. “The best way to get over a broken heart is a new love.” The name was clear, the family’s continuing passion for wine, but also a pledge to return the roots of Mondavi, making premium wine. “The name means continuing to learn and continuing to improve,” says Tim.

The family launched its first Continuum in 2005. When Robert passed away in 2008, Tim took on the family legacy, in making wine. “Wine is the only thing that our family has a long history in, and that we can deliver on,” says Tim. Today, Tim’s daughter Carissa is also in the business, along with other family members, marking the four generations of Mondavi in the wine business (Tim’s grandfather Cesare bought Charles Krug winery, the oldest winery in Napa Valley, in 1943).

Continuum meant Tim had a fresh slate in making wine. “We started again, filled with all our experience drawn from our rich history, giving us an opportunity to define what is the best,” says Tim. The first Continuum wines used grapes from Te Kalon vineyard. The Te Kalon vineyard has a long history, has it was originally owned by H.W. Crabb, one of the first winemakers in Napa Valley. The vineyard was bought by Robert Mondavi, who used it to make his own famous wines, but constellation got control of Te Kalon in the buyout. While the Mondavi family looked for its own private vineyard to make Continuum, they bought grapes from Te Kalon. “Constellation allowed me to buy grapes while we were finding our own future,” says Tim.

In 2007, Tim was able to purchase his own vineyard to make Continuum, slowly using more of his own grapes in the wine. The land was on a hillside close to Te Kalon, but at a higher elevation, between 1,300 and 1,600 feet. Tim loves to note the exclusivity of wine from this type of location. “Only 4% of all wine from California is from Napa Valley, and only 4% of all Napa is from hillsides,” he says (as Napa Valley, as per its name, is mostly lowland). 

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