Angelina Mondavi, When Wine is in the blood.

Monday, 16 / September / 2013

Interview to Angelina Mondavi, wine maker and owner of Dark Matter Wines.

Angelina Mondavi, has recently visited Rivercap, the designer and producer of packaging for wines and spirits. During her stay, Angelina has talked about the secrets of a life in which the “wine is carried in the blood”.

 Do you think wine can be carried in the blood?

      Yes, wine definitely is in my blood, literally in my veins.  In my case I started working in my families winery (Charles Krug Winery) at the age of ten getting paid $0.25 per hour and soon developed the passion for wine, vines and the chemistry early on. I loved working in the laboratory from then on, and once my palate developed, everything just fell into place but definitely have had and still am working really hard at it. I am almost 30 and will be going into my 15th vintage, and still love what I do everyday.

 How can be managed a winery/company with so much family traditions? 

      With family tradition comes the ability to maintain consistency from vintage to vintage as well as have the knowledge of our properties. With approximately 800 acres of property at Charles Krug Winery, my family knows every inch of each property; where the weak spots in the vineyards are, if it is vigorous terrain, the water retention in the soil, which ultimately dictates when to pick that vineyard, leaf pull, type of trellising to use and much more.

    Wineries without that tradition, do not always know the soil characteristics over a span of time, the winery quirks as well since it has not been passed down to other generations unless they have been the winemaker for an extended period of time. 

   My family also must look at continuing to evolve to keep up with today's market demands. To do so, we look at keeping our labels fashion forward, rebuilding our redwood cellar and creating a hospitality center with in the old infrastructure, create new brands to compete in the market place, and introducing the fourth generation into the market place.

 What are the main things your parents or grandparents taught you?

    My grandfather, Peter Mondavi Sr. has taught me patience, the ability to save money to ensure I stay financially sound, and that winemaking is not all about numbers (pH, TA, brix) but rather more about picking by flavor, and knowing when the time is right for that vineyard to be picked.

   My father, Marc Mondavi, has taught me how to look and read a vineyard and know when it is struggling, when it is too vigorous, also how to read and know it's not about the winemaking but more about the vineyard.  Since i was little, he and grandpa would tell me "everything starts in the vineyard, winemaking follows."

 How would you define the work of a wine producer?

    First and foremost, a wine maker is dedicated to making the best wine he or she can for that vintage.  After that, maintaining cleanliness, and quality control in the winery are huge factors in my job.  In the vineyards, maintaining proper nourishment in the soil all year round, plus canopy management, etc. 

I don't think there is not one thing I do not do, you have to be knowledgable and perform inside the winery and out in the vineyards to be successful.

 Do you want your children to be wine producer as well?

    When and if that time comes, yes, if that is what my child so desires.   My family raised me to be responsible, and passionate and do what I love; it just so happens I love being outdoors amongst the vines and in the cellar making wine, so I only hope my offspring could develop that passion as well.

 What drives a woman so well trained to be wine producer?

      As a woman winemaker, my motivation is trying to be the best I can be.  For me, sometimes I feel like I am chasing a shadow of my grandfather, one I might never catch up to, but knowing I am the future along with my sisters and cousins makes me want to be the best of the best to keep my great grandparents and grandfathers vision continuing for generations to come.

 Do you think the wine industry needs more tradition than other industries? Also in California?

     The wine industry has a plethora of tradition, that will never be forgotten, but I feel what the industry needs is more individuals willing to step out of the box, willing to be forward thinkers, and explore innovations, concepts that can improve the wine industry as a whole. My grandfather was very much one of the driving forces of cold fermentation between the 40's through the 70's... And now it is a widely used practice; so I know it can be done.

 How would you describe your style of leadership? and management?

    I was raised to be independent and responsible for my actions. I very much like individuals that are passionate about making wine or helping in the wine making process.  If that cellar hand shows gumption and drive, I try to teach them to look at the bigger picture and think all of the possibilities and routes one can do before performing the Work order and also consider the consequences.  If your employees don't have the knowledge about the wine they are touching and don't know the ramifications of doing a work order one way versus another, how can you except them to respect the wine they are handling?