Rob Mondavi Jr.’s Father’s Day Tradition: Pairing Pork, Wine & Family

Michael and Rob enjoying a glass of Emblem Cabernet together

Fourth generation winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr. is passionate about food and wine – but his greatest passion is family.  One of his favorite father’s day traditions is sharing a home-cooked meal  with his father, Michael, paired with one of their family’s wines; something he plans to continue with his son when he’s old enough.

In 2006, Rob co-founded Michael Mondavi Family Estate, along with his father and sister, Dina.  This boutique winery from the renowned Carneros region honors the Mondavi family’s longstanding commitment to selecting the finest vineyards and hand-crafting wines of exceptional varietal character and balance.

To elevate any family gathering, Rob suggests slow-roasted pork shoulder, a flavorful dish that’s deceptively easy-to-make, succulent, and pairs well with a variety of different wines.  Check out the recipe below from Rob’s personal repertoire, along with his recommended pairings:

  • Isabel Mondavi Deep Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP: $20): This Rosé has captivating aromas of strawberry, cranberry and red apple.  Mouthwatering acidity and a juicy finish make this wine an ideal pairing for a wide array of dishes.
  • Isabel Mondavi Pinot Noir (SRP: $50): This elegant, medium-bodied Pinot has aromas and flavors of violets, cherries and strawberries.  An exceptionally versatile wine, it pairs well with everything from hearty beef stew to roasted vegetables.
  • Emblem Napa Valley Cabernet (SRP: $35): Blended from specific vineyard sites throughout Napa, this wine demonstrates the unique characteristics of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  With smooth, supple tannins, this wine can cut through the fat of juicy meats without overpowering delicate flavors.
  • Spellbound Petite Sirah (SRP: $18): This wine is easy to appreciate for its lush opulence and juiciness, which make it a perfect pairing for rich and comforting dishes.

Rob Mondavi, Jr.’s Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Needed – 5+ pound pork shoulder or pork butt – bone in or out, your choice.  (I use bone-out more often as it is easier to break down later.)

Make brine: 

  • 375-500 mL of apple cider or juice
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salt (liquid should just begin to have a salty flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper and fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  1. Mix well, adjust to seasonings to your taste and submerge pork in mixture.  Cover and keep refrigerated for 12-24 hours.
  2. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour. Then, pat pork dry and place in the cooking vessel of your choice.  (I prefer a Big Green Egg®.)  Smoke or cook at a temperature targeting 220 degrees for a total of 8 or more hours.
  3. Add wood for smoke to your liking (less is often advisable so one does not over smoke the meat).   At the 4-hour mark, completely cover and seal the pork with aluminum foil and continue to cook.  This step is the secret to delicious, moist pork that you can flake with a spoon.
  4. Once finished cooking, allow the pork to cool for roughly 30 minutes, then pull apart.  At this point I sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into the pulled pork and fold in.  One should not be able to taste the vinegar, yet what this does is cut the potentially fatty texture from the pulled pork and allows one to savor the meat.  It’s a great trick.

Serve with fresh buns and coleslaw.