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Mondavi Mounts Crusade Against Prohibitionists

October 01, 1987|Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — California vintner Robert Mondavi is mounting a scientific-sociological-religious battle against American "fanatics . . . neo-prohibitionists" whom he claims threaten to take this country into another era of enforced alcohol abstention.

"Wine," the 74-year-old wine maker told a $125-a-plate dinner of the American Institute of Wine & Food on Tuesday night, "is the healthful, temperate, civilized, sacred mealtime beverage recommended in the Bible . . . the liquid praised for centuries . . . it has been with us since civilization began."

American wine lovers are threatened by what he sees as a growing movement to toss--by misstatement, legal, tax and other means--barriers between alcoholic beverages and the people who enjoy them.

The apparent aim, he said, is another era of prohibition, 54 years after repeal in 1933 ended a 13-year experiment that was marked by one of the most violent periods in American peacetime history.

Part of his campaign will, he said, require all of the Mondavi Winery's marketing and sales personnel to become "missionaries" prepared to promote "what wine really is."

Mondavi, along with chef Julia Child a founder of the prestigious institute and the man credited with initiating the modernization of the American wine industry, plans to take his message to Europe.

He will deliver it Oct. 15 in London at the presentation of the Robert Mondavi Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition.

"The alcohol issue is very serious worldwide and is coming to such extremes as to enforce the application of a label on all wine bottles sold in the United States," Mondavi said.

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