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Vintners this week get into the millennium spirit by popping open their holiday advertising drives.

Robert Mondavi Winery breaks its first TV effort for its popular Woodbridge label of premium varietal table wines. Three spots, from agency Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., feature comedian Harry Shearer explaining the complexities involved in making wine decisions.

Spots are tagged, "Woodbridge. It's all you need to know about great wine."

The campaign will run in four test markets -- Boston, Houston, Phoenix and San Francisco -- in broadcast, cable and spot TV programming, said Martin Johnson, senior VP-marketing. It complements a branding effort Mondavi launched in September using a new company icon, a silhouette profile of Robert Mondavi holding a wine glass. Print ads show Mr. Mondavi along with innovators in other fields, such as Berkeley chef Alice Waters.

Mr. Johnson said Mondavi is using the ad campaign to beef up its image during the millennium season.

"Even if you did no advertising, you could do all right because there will be a lot of business right off the shelves," said Mr. Johnson, adding, however, "it's important to step up because the opportunity is too big."

Overall, Mondavi ad spending this year is expected to reach $10 million, up 30% from previous levels.


Separately, Beringer Wine Estates is launching its first campaign for new superpremium Beringer Founders' Estates wines with two spots from Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco.

The effort rolls national in a $25 million campaign next year.

In one spot, a father presents the wine to his son and daughter-in-law with a stated wish for a "romantic evening" and an unstated wish for grandchildren. Spots are tagged "The wine to bring."


A number of vintners believe the millennium presents an opportunity that will allow them to entice wine drinkers to buy more expensive wines, and to get new customers to try wine.

Several are starting to market wines with special millennium labels because New Year's Eve celebrants will be drinking still as well as sparkling wines, said Eileen Fredrikson, VP, Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, an industry consultancy.

Mark Swartzberg, an analyst with Salomon Smith Barney, called the millennium

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