As severe drought continues to grip all of California, several of the region’s winemakers are turning an age-old practice to protect their precious vines, including winemaker Marc Mondavi.
Those who practice the ancient of dousing, also known as “water witching” believe it can help find water during severe drought, according to a report by NBC.
The practice, which dates back at least 5,000 years, involves the use of copper rods and prisms which act as “pointers” indicating if water is beneath the ground, when a douser walks over it, by tilting downwards.
There are many ‘dousers’ throughout Napa who will charge for their services, with demand rising in times of drought.
One such douser is Napa Valley winemaker Marc Mondavi who has been practising the art for 40 years and charges $500 a ‘douse’.
Speaking to NBC, he said his services had been called upon across northern California to as far away as Mexico.
He said: “There’s no guarantees, although I’m more than 95% successful.”
Mondavi is the eldest son of Peter and Blanche Mondavi and grandson of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, who bought Charles Krug winery in 1943.
He studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis, and marketing at California State University, Sacramento returning to the family wine business in 1978.
With California’s wine country currently experiencing a historic drought, employing the services of water witches might seem worthwhile, but sceptics say it is not scientifically proven.
James Underdown, who heads the Center for Inquiry and the Independent Investigations Group in Los Angeles, told NBC that over the years they had tested many dousers abilities – non of which were able to perform in a scientifically controlled test.
Mondavi, however, dismissed sceptics simply stating: “It’s not a science.”
“Scientists don’t understand this. Therefore, they don’t believe in it.”