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Helen Mondavi, 91; Sister of Napa Valley Winemakers

June 19, 2003|From Associated Press

NAPA, Calif. — Helen Mondavi, a sister of Napa Valley winemakers Robert and Peter Mondavi, has died. She was 91.

Mondavi died Friday in her Napa Valley home after a brief illness.

Helen Mondavi tried to be a peacemaker during a dispute between her two brothers that led Robert to leave the family-run Charles Krug Winery and form his own Robert Mondavi Winery.

Later, the brothers reconciled.

"She was really the caretaker of the family," her daughter, Serena Ventura, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She "put the family first and not the business."

Her death came just days before Wednesday's 90th birthday party for Robert Mondavi. Her daughter said it had been her wish to let the big party continue as planned.

"She absolutely didn't want whatever happened to her to get in the way of Bob celebrating his birthday," Ventura said.

Helen Mondavi was born in Virginia, Minn., to Italian peasant immigrants Rosa and Cesare Mondavi. She is the first of the four Mondavi children to die. Her older sister, Mary Westbrook, is 93, and Peter Mondavi is 88.

Besides her two brothers, sister and daughter, she is survived by her son, Peter Ventura of Napa Valley, and five grandchildren.

A rosary will be recited today, and a requiem Mass will be held on Friday.

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