Food & Drink

Bottles and Barrels to feature winemaker Robert Mondavi Jr.

Robert Mondavi Jr. is a fourth-generation Napa Valley winemaker. He will be providing the wine for the Bottles and Barrels event June 14-15 at Habersham Marketplace.
Robert Mondavi Jr. is a fourth-generation Napa Valley winemaker. He will be providing the wine for the Bottles and Barrels event June 14-15 at Habersham Marketplace. Submitted photo

The Habersham Marketplace in Beaufort will be the setting for a new Lowcountry event this weekend called Bottles and Barrels.

As the name suggests, the two-day event focuses on beer and wine tastings.

"It's an experienced-based event. You come to experience the wine, beer and surroundings," said Jodie Miller of Plum Productions, the company that handles events for Habersham. The inaugural wine and beer tasting is the adult complement to the family-friendly Harvest Festival in the fall, Miller said.

The "bottles" will come from regional craft beer makers, including South Carolina brewers Palmetto Brewing Company and River Dog Brewing Company.

The "barrels" will be provided by Robert Mondavi Jr., a fourth-generation Napa Valley winemaker who is in the process of building a vacation home on St. Helena Island.

"As new people in the community, we just thought it was a wonderful way for us to get to know a lot of people here very quickly," Mondavi said. "Pouring wine is a great excuse to talk to local folks."

Although Mondavi is California born and bred, his wife, Lydia, is a Georgia native.

"Napa Valley is fantastic, but she loves the South. And I fell in love with her and fell in love with the South as well," he said.

The two decided to build a beach house in the Lowcountry and chose St. Helena because it was a small town off the beaten track.

"I grew up on a vineyard in the middle of 500 acres. I wanted to find a retreat that was a little farther out," Mondavi said.

The Mondavis will bring 20 different wines to the Bottles and Barrels event from the new family wine label Spellbound as well as some European wines they represent.

"There's a great proliferation of wines out there, but there isn't a great proliferation of great wines out there in the $10-$20 range," he said.

"I wanted to do something that was different. And by different I mean really round and plush, velvety wines that just felt great in your mouth and had good fruit. We created Spellbound because we wanted something better."

Spellbound includes a cabernet, chardonnay and merlot as well as a petite sirah, which is a hybrid of a durif grape.

Mondavi said he crafted the petite sirah so that people "could explore and still have confidence that you're getting these round and plush wines."

In addition to the tasting event on June 14, there will also be a Cast Iron Chef Cookoff, where chefs from local restaurants will compete to create a dish using bacon, the Southern Living ingredient of the year. The competition will be judged by Southern Living Test Kitchen Director Robby Melvin.

On June 15, the Mondavis will host a brunch that will feature live music and mimosas.

Once Mondavis' beach house is completed in July, he said that he and his wife and their 3-year-old son will visit every few months to put their toes in the sand. And enjoy some wine, of course. Mondavi said prosecco is perfect for a hot Lowcountry summer day, or a crisp chardonnay, or even a beer.

"You don't always have to have a glass of wine," he said, "but we prefer that you do."

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