California wine master Robert Mondavi died peacefully today in his Napa Valley home at age 94, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Disciples and critics alike have praised the vintner for elevating West Coast wine from jug juice to world-class vino. "His legacy and his vision for what California could do remains with us as guidepost and a source of aspiration," one winemaker said.
The dapper grape-grower broke away from the family business in 1965, intent on proving that California grapes, steel fermentation tanks, and French oak barrels could produce wine on par with Europe's. His family sold the winery for more than $1 billion 4 years ago, but Mondavi stayed active in Napa's wine community until last year. (Read more Robert Mondavi stories.)