About two years ago, rumors started circulating around the Napa Valley that the Robert Mondavi Winery was for sale. A spokesman for the winery denied it, and financial analysts attributed the rumor to the fact that "some big money" had met with Mondavi, unsolicited. Mondavi reportedly said the winery wasn't for sale.
A San Francisco-based wine industry analyst said such rumors are not uncommon, especially since the tax law changes of 1986. The law wiped out the so-called estate tax freeze, which permitted a family company to be passed on to heirs at a lower tax rate. Under the new plan, and in the absence of careful estate tax planning, the Mondavi Winery could face large inheritance taxes.
That is one of the reasons Mondavi, hoping to avoid a financial debacle at the time of his death, has been acquiring other wineries and vineyards.
Today, Mondavi owns some 1,200 acres of vineyard land in the heart of the Napa Valley, another 450 acres in the Carneros region south of the winery (still in Napa), the Vichon Winery on the Oakville Grade (50,000-case production), Byron Winery in Santa Barbara County (16,000 cases) and hundreds of acres of other vineyard land in Santa Barbara.