business news in context, analysis with attitude

Following up on yesterday’s announcement that Robert Mondavi Corp. has put the company’s landmark winery and its high-end wine brands, including its stake in the Opus One in France and Ornellaia in Tuscany, Italy, up for sale, company vice chairman Michael Mondavi resigned from the company amid speculation that other members of the family would try to buy back the pieces of the company being sold off.

Mondavi is the son of company founder Robert Mondavi.

Mondavi Corp. reportedly plans to retain its low-end properties, including the Woodbridge brand, that account for more than three-quarters of company revenue.
KC's View:
The more we think about this story, the sadder it makes us.

Here you have a company that was built pretty much from scratch by an American entrepreneur, and that virtually invented an American industry. Over time the company experiences ups and downs, and finally the entrepreneur loses control of its management, the company goes public, and the crown jewels – the pieces of the company that reflect the founder’s original dreams and innovation – get sold off because they aren’t appropriate for a public company to own.

Is the Mondavi family blameless? Probably not; after all, they wanted the company to go public.

But this is a uniquely American story, and the final chapter may indeed be a sad one. And that’s too bad.

Someone wrote us yesterday, accusing us of being an elitist writing about an elitist company in our piece about Mondavi. We would disagree on a variety of levels…but most of all because this seems to us to be a uniquely American business story.