Dina Mondavi is a Force for Change

4/23/2018

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This story is part of our “Women in Wine” series — an ongoing effort to highlight the women shaping today’s evolving global wine industry. From winemakers to sustainability specialists to executives, these are the women among the vines to watch in 2018.

Dina Mondavi is a wine industry star in the making.

No, it’s not just because of her last name. Though it doesn’t hurt to be the daughter and granddaughter of two industry icons, Michael and Robert Mondavi, respectively.

And no, it’s not solely because the brands she and her brother Robert have created under the company they co-founded, Michael Mondavi Family Estate, have become sought after across the U.S.

Instead, Mondavi is a rising star– not to overplay the metaphor – because people are drawn to her.

When Mondavi speaks, she commands the room’s attention in a way that is equal parts warm and authoritative. At seminars, tables filled with reporters, wine experts and amateur wine enthusiasts are pulled closer to her with every passing anecdote and insight, as if gravity has the audience fixated on her axis.

Out in the field, the same anomaly happens. Sommeliers and waitstaff flock to her after staff trainings, asking question after question, while Mondavi gives each one her undivided time and attention.

So why are so many people drawn to her? For one, she’s a grounded and get to the point kind of person. She’s real.

While Mondavi’s passion for wine immediately recognizable, so is her concern for the industry’s shortcomings.

Dina Mondavi QuoteWhen asked about equality, she holds little back.

I think the wine industry has a long way to go in equality for women,” said Mondavi. “I really didn't see a lot of strong females in the wine industry growing up in Napa Valley. For my generation, I think a lot of us ladies are our own mentors. We self-advocate, put our nose to the grindstone and just keep working.”

When asked about the current wave of red blends hitting the market, she at first appears to answer the question straight on.

“Well, I did notice the red blend trend, which as a vintner I find fascinating. It's not my personal preference,” she said.

But then, she recognizes an opportunity to get something off her chest.

“That said, I would like to see these I ‘red blends’ labeled ‘sweet red blends’ because I feel that we're not being true to our consumer,” said Mondavi.

“By that I mean that there are many consumers out there who that, for example, Napa Valley Cabernets are a blend of many varietals, and it is a red blend but it's not labeled as a red blend. I wish there was just some more truth in advertising.”

One must wonder if Mondavi realizes that she is on her way to becoming the official voice of her generation of wine drinkers: The Millennial generation. The “Right Now” generation. A generation that is highly engaged but notoriously hard to impress.

"I think our generation is familiar with seeing our parents and our grandparents drink wine and so we didn't need to demystify wine drinking as my father's generation did. Wine is still magical and exciting for my generation, as well as generations behind me, but I think the millennial generation is more open to trying just about anything and everything,” Mondavi said.

As the future face of this new generation of wine drinkers, Mondavi can start implementing some of the changes she recognizes need to be made.

For younger women entering the industry, she can be a mentor and role model. For budding consumers, she’ll be a siren for honesty in marketing. As a winemaker, she’ll have a role in creating brands that last beyond the trends and become classics. And for her family, she’ll ensure that the name Mondavi is synonymous not only with great wine, but also permanent change.

 

 

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