Nine Napa Valley wineries, five of America’s best chefs, 95 guests and a panel led by Jancis Robinson MW remembered the life of Robert Mondavi last week.

What was scheduled to be a 95th birthday party for the legendary winemaker on 28 June became a celebration as the distinguished guests reminisced about Mondavi and his contributions to the wine industry.

Joining Mondavi’s widow Margrit and other family members were Robinson’s panel of Agustin Huneeus, Margaret Duckhorn, Joseph Phelps, Robert’s brother Peter Mondavi Sr, and son Tim Mondavi.

Lastly there were 95 guests who bid $10,000 each for the dinner at wine and arts centre Copia in Napa town, which was offered as Lot 44 at Auction Napa Valley on 7 June.

Robinson talked about her various encounters with Mondavi. ‘In my 30-plus years writing about wine, I have never met such a strong, charismatic character as Bob Mondavi,’ she said. ‘However strong he was in this particular corner of the world, he undoubtedly had influence all over the world.’

Huneeus, of Quintessa, said, ‘The trait I always admired in Bob was his openness and generosity. And it cannot be overstated that Bob made the world of wine pass through the New World. Until Bob, it was really an Old World game.’

Dinner featured courses prepared by chefs who had cooked for Mondavi in their restaurants: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano, Gary Danko, Alice Waters and Charlie Trotter.

Written by Linda Murphy in San Francisco