While the Mondavi Sisters – Alycia, Riana, Angelina, and Gigi – are certainly no strangers to a family-owned and operated business, the four have taken a hands-on approach with their boutique labels, Aloft and Dark Matter wines.
Raised in Napa Valley and members of the iconic California wine family, the sisters laugh about starting work at their family’s winery at the early age of 10. A host of winery jobs alongside their Father, Marc, and Grandfather, Peter Mondavi Sr., included everything from cleaning glass- ware to running samples and helping in the lab.
Following the family rule that they had to acquire experience in other endeavors before joining the family business, Alycia, CEO of Aloft and Dark Matter, attended college in San Diego and worked as a para- legal before making her way back home.
Angelina, who serves as winemaker for Aloft and Dark Matter, also runs a successful consulting winemaking business, with several 100-point scores to her name. Riana, the third in the lineup, handles off-premise chain account sales for the family’s parent company, C. Mondavi & Family, which includes legacy brands such as Charles Krug and CK Mondavi. Giovanna, also known as Gigi, currently works for Massachusetts Financial Services, building a career in finance. Riana and Gigi also help with Aloft and Dark Matter as Brand Ambassadors and Co-Proprietors.
“We each bring our own strengths to the table,” said Alycia. “It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ atmosphere; we are the only employees, and each of us has learned the business from the ground up.”
Encouraged by their father Marc to create their own path, the sisters purchased a two-acre parcel atop Howell Mountain in 2003, itself a dramatic departure from the family’s history of producing wines only from the Napa Valley floor. The parcel was previously and serendipitously planted to Zinfandel, a varietal of significant meaning to the sisters. “One of my earliest memories is of drinking watered-down Zinfandel with my grandfather,” said Angelina. “We joke that we were all bottle-fed Zin.”
Following the Dark Matter Zinfandel’s successful launch in 2006, the sisters also launched a Cabernet expression under the Dark Matter label, called Limitless. The Cabernet provides their loyal fan base with an option for a more traditional Napa Valley varietal, even within the more edgy Dark Matter label.
Conversely, the Aloft label pays homage to the sister’s deep roots in the Napa Valley. The Cabernet, also grown on Howell Mountain, will soon celebrate their tenth vintage. In 2019, the Sisters again paid tribute to their roots, releasing a Napa Valley Chenin Blanc. Once a popular varietal, the grape now only accounts for less than ten acres grown in all of Napa Valley.
The two brands, and the wines within, beautifully illustrate an inherent duality – a deep regard for their family’s history combined with a personal, modern flare.
Even as the Valley faces new growing pains, the Mondavi Sisters and their wines promise to remain a stalwart reminder of Napa Valley’s great past and promising future.
THE MONDAVI SISTERS
Article By: Fran Miller