I was very sad to hear that the father of California wine, Mr. Robert Mondavi, passed away yesterday. Today, though, I was embarrassed to call myself a journalist after seeing the coverage that was given to Mr. Mondavi’s passing and legacy in the news today.
First up, CNN.com. Out of 21 stories featured on the front page, Mr. Mondavi wasn’t mentioned. What was mentioned? “Ashlee Simpson Gets Fairy Tale Wedding”, “Charter Bus Overturns On Freeway, Killing 1″, and my favorite, “Clinton Passes On A Shot Of Bourbon”. You can find the story if you scroll down to the bottom and venture into the “U.S.” section, then find the “West” section.
I went on to check other major news sites: ABC had 15 featured stories with no mention and I gave up looking for it, and Fox News had 19 featured stories with no mention, only to have the story buried in the “U.S.” section.
Robert Mondavi arguably did as much for the modern California wine industry as anyone, and his efforts not only created a wine industry that can compete on a global market, he helped create an industry that is a staple to the west coast and national economies.
How important is the California wine industry to the California and American Economy?
Consider these figures put out by The Wine Institute (last revised 3/08):
– “$51.8 billion in economic value for California”
– “$125.3 billion for the U.S. economy”
– “$13 billion in state and federal tax payments”
– “309,000 jobs in California and a total 875,000 jobs nationwide”
Furthermore, the development of the California wine industry has greatly helped the growth of wine industries in Washington and Oregon, creating billions and billions more for state and national economies.
As a wine professional, Robert Mondavi is a personal hero, but one doesn’t have to be a wine professional to feel the ripples of his influence as an American pioneer, and in an age where journalism won’t let Britney Spears blow her nose without turning it into breaking news, it simply breaks my heart to show so little respect to an American Icon. American journalism should be ashamed of itself…