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Michael Mondavi creates new luxury wine company

Former Mondavi CEO and chairman Michael Mondavi has just launched his own luxury wine business, with the aim of eventually setting up a new winery.

The Frescobaldi family of Tuscany, which has long personal and business ties with the Mondavi family, has just named Folio as their exclusive agent and importer in the US.

Folio Wine Company was founded last month by Michael, eldest son of Robert Mondavi and co-founder of Napa’s most celebrated winery, Robert Mondavi Corporation, which has been bought in its entirety by Constellation brands.

Michael’s wife Isabella and their children Rob Jr and Dina are also involved. The company will be involved in importing, distributing and marketing quality wines and eventually creating its own winery.

In an exclusive interview yesterday Rob Mondavi told decanter.com that being part of a large corporation – the Robert Mondavi Corporation – was exciting and offered opportunities, but they ‘wanted to get back to [their fine wine] roots.’

‘We are also looking forward to a more hands-on approach, getting back into the winery and being directly involved in all the different aspects of the business.’

According to Rob, Folio will either acquire or build its own winery in the near future. ‘While things are happening quickly since we started up the company just last month, we want to move cautiously.’

He added they would stay in Napa ‘to stick with our roots and with what we know.’

Folio Wine Company will also be exclusively importing fine wines from around the world, including the Frescobaldi portfolio, which they were ‘honoured’ to be associated with, Rob said.

He explained the deal was an option the Frescobaldis are exercising under their contract with Robert Mondavi Corporation.

Leonardo Frescobaldi told decanter.com, ‘We are very pleased to maintain our relationship with the Mondavi family who will begin importing the Frescobaldi family portfolio at the beginning of March.’

Ornellaia and Luce, the two high-end Mondavi-Frescobaldi joint ventures, are still imported by Robert Mondavi Corporation. Frescobaldi, as reported on decanter.com, is very keen to take full control of the wines and is currently in negotiation with Constellation.

Folio will also be working with US wineries including top Russian River property Belvedere. Rob Mondavi’s wife Lydia Mondavi is also active in the wine business, running a company called Medusa with a friend. Their first bottling, Medusa Old Vine Zinfandel from the Chiles Valley, Napa, should be available this spring.

Written by Kerin O’Keefe

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