Robert Mondavi: Winemaker and Zombie Killer

Mondavi"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

If this isn't one of the most monumental non-sequitrrs in the history of film and literature I don't know what is. The film, based on the book (which I read with a great deal of glee), is coming to a theater near you very soon. It will, besides offer another opportunity to see how vampires react when their heads are chopped off, provide something of an "alternative history" for students of Lincoln.

However, the real prize that comes with the appearance of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in a theater near you is the opportunity to explore the idea of creativity and imagination. For those who write frequently about wine, market wine via frequent communications or are looking regularly for new ways to simply explore the nature of wine and their relationship to the beverage, the non-sequitur that marks the heart of this story of Lincoln and the undead is fertile ground.

For me, the best writers, thinkers and observers are those who possess the talent of finding linkage between ideas. Sometimes a link between ideas is obvious and likely to be intellectual ground that has been tilled for insight repeatedly because of the obvious connection. The notion of "Terroir" and "Culture is one such linkage between seemingly different ideas. Once you thnk about what terroir in wine means, it's not hard to make the link between the culture of a region that is said to express terroir.

The ideas of weather and drinking wine is another seemingly desperate set of topics where the linkage between them comes fairly easily. So, it, like terroir and culture, are discussed frequently. Because it's an easy connection.

But the most thrilling conversations and observations come when the set of topics have no easy linkage, yet the author or commentator finds a way to link them for intellectual profit. Don't be disappointed if you can't see the connection between the savior of the American Union and the undead straight away. It took me a few nights with the book to appreciate the link.

My point is this: if you are looking for new and interesting ways to embrace or talk about or explain or understand wine, then play with disparate ideas and try to connect them with wine. I'm not suggesting you go the distance and contemplate a story, book, blog post or marketing campaign that begins takes on the idea of "Robert Mondavi: Zombie Killer" or "Gary Vaynerchuk: Prom Queen" or "Robert Parker, Jr: Champion of Chicken Liver."

Rather, I'm suggesting that let yourself be inspired by being open to connections and linkages of a somewhat less absurd nature, but not too easily inspired,

The process of making seemingly disparate wine connections is somewhat like playing Seven Degrees of Separation On the one end always sits wine. On the other end sits nearly anything that you come across in your daily pursuits. For example, what are the connections between wine and:

-The presidential election
-The diminishing of anything free on airlines
-The way dogs seem so easily distracted
-A blue sky with no clouds to be seen

It takes an intellectual effort to see if there is a connection between the two seemingly disparate ideas, but frequently, in trying to connect the two, you discover what may be very interesting insights that could fulfill your responsibility to write about, think about or market wine. This is often how I approach a blank screen when I feel like writing for this blog, but have little on my mind or anything in particular I want to explore: I take the idea of wine on the one hand, place another idea or circumstance or observation on the other end, then walk them to the middle with connections and linkages and see what appears.

-The idea of Denigration Marketing comes out of looking at "natural" wine and presidential election marketing.

-The fascinating eruption of so much free wine knowledge flows from the realization on the one hand that nothing is free on airlines, including now a seat by the window, and the proliferation of wine advice that can be found now on the Internet.

-The conclusion that wine consumers today flit from one wine fad to another so much more quickly  occurs when watching my dog drop her chewtoy when a butter fly arrives at one end of the yard and also noticing the sudden taste for Moscato today; one that will be gone some day soon.

-The picture of a flawless blue sky above me combined with statistics on I've recently been studyng on direct wine shipping trends leads me to consider that there may be a picture perfect convergence of circumstances that will make winemakers very happy in a decades or so.

-And of course that Robert Mondavi was responsible for slaying the Zombies that fed on the notion that American wine could never be as good as French wine is is a connection so easy to make I'm almost embarrassed to offer it.

The process of creativity in wine writing and wine marketing is no different than the process that results in creativity in literature, film-making or anything else. It's about making unique connections between ideas and things and people that are not commonly made, then having the wherewithal to suss out the meaning of those connections. One thing I am NOT is a creative genius. I came to terms with that reality a long time ago. But I am familiar with the tools that make me and anyone a little better equipped to walk outside the box.

2 Responses

  1. StevenMirassou - May 25, 2012

    Nice post Tom. It seems to me that connections that can be made between wine and family, history, enjoyment, sociology, food, weather, topography, geography, geology, even…phrenology are so numerous that wine becomes nearly a bottomless referent. Of course, we must all choose our particular prism, and getting across the idea of using wine as THE prism (at least temporarily), is really the work that needs to be done more and more by all connected to the production, enjoyment, marketing, and sales of it.

  2. Alfonso - May 26, 2012

    you strolled pretty far out on the jetty this time, Tombo.
    You do still live in Napa, not Mendocino, yes?
    lots of food for thought; in honor of it I think maybe it’s time to bring back Dr. Zaius.

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