Some of you may know him as Robert Benmosche, CEO of AIG, the man that led the charge in paying back the United States government a $182.3 billion bailout plus a $22.7 billion profit.
In life Bob had been a Coca Cola delivery truck driver, a mathematics major at Alfred University, a lieutenant in the US Army during the Vietnam War serving in Korea, an executive at PaineWebber, and Chairman and CEO of MetLife. Others knew him simply as Bobby or Pops, a family man. A man who fell in love with Croatia and wine cultivation several decades ago. In 1987, it was during a PaineWebber trip with the firm's top stock brokers that Bob first visited Dubrovnik. At the time Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia, and it left an impression on Bob. Besides being a beautiful place to visit, Bob had a great love for wine and he had read an article about the origins of the Zinfandel grape being from Croatia. The "seed had been planted” and it became his mission to grow Zinfandel grapes in the region where they originated.
“I was in Dubrovnik in Croatia back in 1987 and found it was a beautiful place. I said to myself, ‘Bob, what do you want to do when you retire?’ I had read an article that said Zinfandel may have come from Croatia. And so I said that is an interesting idea. In 2006, I was able to get two pieces of land. One in Dingač where my vineyard manager's property is, and another in Viganj, about 12 acres, right on the sea. I chose it because it had these yellow flowers called broom. They say where the flowers grow is great for growing grapes... Next we imported 1,500 Zinfandel plants from Napa and began our vineyards. The Bura-Mrgudic family now manages the vineyards and the family has over 11 generations of winemakers. They have already been making some of the best wine in the country and it has been a great relationship.”
It was Bob Benmosche's dream to plant vineyards on the Dalmatian coast, a "place like no other" as he would say, and to enjoy his wine in the beautiful sunset at his Dubrovnik home.
He joined together with an incredible family, to bring California Zinfandel back to its homeland and start his vineyard. Today, the two families are continuing to honor Bob's legacy, making high quality wines rooted in tradition.