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Exclusive: C. Mondavi & Sons Rolling Out The Divining Rod, A New Super-Premium California Label

March 5, 2012

Aiming to ignite growth, St. Helena, California-based C. Mondavi & Sons has unveiled The Divining Rod, its first new brand in more than 60 years. Rolling out nationwide in April, the label’s first effort will be a 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay, followed by a 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines will be priced at around $17 a 750-ml., and will target Millennials, according to COO Mike Jaeger. The brand is named for C. Mondavi co-proprietor and winemaker Marc Mondavi’s knack for finding underground sources of water beneath vineyard land.

C. Mondavi’s existing portfolio features super-premium Charles Krug and accessibly priced CK Mondavi. Charles Krug is known for its estate grown, Bordeaux-style wines. Featuring Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals, Charles Krug offers a core Napa and Carneros range ($18-$27 a 750-ml.) and Family Reserve range ($50-$75), as well as various limited releases. Charles Krug depleted 79,000 cases, up 4%, in calendar year 2011.

The CK Mondavi label, meanwhile, offers a mainstream varietal range priced at $6.99 a 750-ml. and $11.99 a 1.5-liter. (Most of the brand’s sales are in the 1.5-liter format.) In addition to its top-selling Cabernet and Chardonnay, the former Impact “Hot Brand” added a Moscato last year, which has become its fastest-growing varietal. The CK Mondavi line was up 6% last year to 1.44 million cases.

“C. Mondavi has been in business since the 1940s and has only had two brands,” says Jaeger, formerly president of Wilson Daniels and Canandaigua Wines (Constellation), who joined the group last year. “But we now want to focus on growth—more than the winery has ever done in the past.”

C. Mondavi recently hired a new winemaker, Stacy Clark. In addition to The Divining Rod, a new line of wines is set to launch under the CK Mondavi brand this summer. Additionally, the Charles Krug winery is in the process of renovating Redwood Cellars, a historic building that will be turned into the vineyard’s tasting room and visitor center.

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