The Mondavi family name is synonymous with fine wine from California's Napa Valley. Interestingly enough, however, a family feud resulted in the odd fact that, today, there are two Mondavi wineries (Robert Mondavi and CK Mondavi, which is owned by the Peter Mondavi family) in existence.
Robert had a falling out with brother Peter and ended up starting Robert Mondavi in 1966, breaking away from the original Mondavi winery founded in 1943, when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the Charles Krug Winery (hense "CK" Mondavi). (For more on the Mondavi family's reach in the wine world, check out the award-winning Mondovino documentary.)
It is CK Mondavi, though, that has apparently been struck by divine inspiration. The winery just announced its first new brand in over half a century, a collection of super premium wines called "Marc Mondavi's The Divining Rod," accompanied by the unusual tagline, "More than natural, supernatural."
According to CK Mondavi, the new brand "is based on the real world 'magic' of third generation winemaker and water witch, Marc Mondavi." That's right, Marc is a water witch, more commonly known as a dowser or water diviner, who "has used his proven ability to locate underground sources of water to help establish vineyards for his family and friends all over California."
The 56-year old Marc Mondavi, brother of Peter Jr., says he has practiced water witching since his teenage years. He claims he has "been able to find water where geologists have come up dry." The Divining Rod wines are sourced from locations considered "hallowed ground" by Mondavi.
Clearly, there's a bit of marketing hocus-pocus behind the new brand that is designed to leverage current cultural interest in wizards, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings.
Likening Marc Mondavi to a witch and referring to him as "Winemaker and Water Witch Extraordinaire" is all part of a playful branding campaign that intentionally leaves open questions about the "magical and mystical goings on with The Divining Rod wines." So is "The Diving Rod Sweepstakes," a Facebook-driven contest running during the month of June. Twenty-five winners will get kits to host their own Divining Party, including 6 sets of divining rods, 2 pendulums, a book teaching the art of divining, 12 coasters, 2 water bottles, and 6 t-shirts. And if you're in Chicago on June 14th, you can check it all out for yourself at the launch party.
The Divining Rod wines currently consist of a 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and a 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which retail for about $17 a bottle. Those who drink enough could very well become bewitched, bothered and bewildered.