“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity
of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.”
- Robert Mondavi, from “Harvests of Joy.”
Teach and Inspire
In many ways, Robert Mondavi was the spiritual godfather of Val de Grace Books. Bob taught us -- as he taught millions of others -- that fine wine was far more than a healthy, exhilarating tonic for body, mind and spirit. He taught us that fine wine was the result of deep education and a masterful blending of literally dozens of crafts and sciences, crowned by the skill and high art of the winemaker and his or her team of specialists. In sum, Bob believed, just as Thomas Jefferson before him believed, that crafting fine wine was a civilizing endeavor, and he dreamed of the day when we in America would craft wines that were every bit as elegant and refined as the wines of France, Italy, Spain, or anywhere else. And Bob was key in turning that noble dream into a golden reality.
And that brings us to Val de Grace Books. With enormous generosity, Bob shared his life and wisdom with Paul Chutkow, as the two men worked together on Bob’s memoir, “Harvests of Joy.” Bob’s intent for the book was clear: Tell a big, important story. And the book did just that. It sold over 100,000 copies here, and there were editions in Canada, Japan and South Korea as well. Through the book, Bob told the story of the rise of American wine and he helped legions of readers understand the civilizing virtues of fine wine and its natural partner: healthy, elegant cuisine. And in the process, Bob did something else: he inspired Paul to go out and create Val de Grace Books.
Two decades later, when Paul sat down with Joseph Phelps to write his life story, Joe’s stated aim for the book had a whole other dimension: Teach and Inspire. And what a fabulous story Joe had to tell. Joe was far more than a winemaker and a Napa Valley pioneer. He had turned his father’s tiny general contracting firm into the powerhouse Hensel Phelps Construction, building schools, airports, medical centers, museums and libraries all across America. And Joe did far more than that, for his community and his country, as you will discover in “The Best We Can Be,” another big, important Val de Grace Book. With sumptuous photography by Matthew Klein, and exquisite design by Connie Hwang, this latest Val de Grace Book will be available at the Joseph Phelps Winery starting this May, with wider distribution set for later this year.
The Creative Spirit
Bob Mondavi and Joe Phelps taught us something else, something larger, something that reaches across our thinking and our entire portfolio of Val de Grace Books. Namely, that in the seemingly disconnected realms of business, wine, food, literature, painting, sculpture and design, true and lasting success grows from one single, unmistakable root: The Creative Spirit.