Aside from making delicious wines, my role as Vice President of Winemaking is to answer technical questions regarding all aspects of wine and its production. I love sharing my passion and educating people about the craft. Today is a bit different. I’m taking a step back and enjoying a movie break. Here is a selection of my favorite wine-related movies and documentaries that may give you more insight into the business. Get your favorite popcorn and wine ready because I’m taking you to the movies.
Somm: Into the Bottle describes the world of fine wine in detail. Jason Wise’s original film takes you deep into the inner workings of the wine trade and top-ranked wineries. This 2012 documentary will help decipher many obscure topics, tricky foreign-language terms or impenetrably confusing labels. Found on Amazon Prime, Somm: Into the Bottle looks at some of the world’s top brands and the production methods behind these renowned wines. This film will be enjoyed at both a specialist or neophyte level.
A few days ago, I watched Fifty Shades of Rosé on Amazon Prime. This documentary is about the history of rosé and its climb to the top of wine sales charts in the United States. Throughout the film you learn about the strategy behind a few brands and how rosé is made. Fifty Shades is a good title for this documentary because after all, rosé is supposed to be the most sensual and sexy wine around, right?
Decanted, currently featured on Netflix, is a well-made documentary with beautiful, sweeping aerial photography of Napa Valley. This film does a nice job of explaining how the wine industry has evolved. In particular, it pays attention to the full process of wine production, including farming vines, focusing on what happens when wine hits the barrels. There is even mention of how branding plays a key role, but is still sometimes overlooked. Napa Valley is described as still being in the “Wild West” stage of winemaking. The tradition goes back only a couple of decades here instead of centuries in countries like Italy and France.
If you enjoy wine and thriller movies, then Sour Grapes is for you. In this film, (which can currently be found on Netflix) you’ll learn about Rudy Kurniawan, a rich Indonesian wine collector who spent millions of dollars on wine. Sour Grapes depicts how this young wine savant conned investors out of millions of dollars by selling countless bottles of fake wine. Acker Merrall & Condit, an auction company, broke wine sales records by selling $35 million worth of Kurniawan’s wines in 2006. This film features an exhilarating plot full of wine fraud, tastings, fashion and an FBI raid – all the components of a Holywood thriller.
Just like everyone else, I enjoy listening to a few tunes every once in a while. However, I did not know anything about musician-turned-winemaker Maynard James Keenan. With the experienced winemaker Eric Glomski, Maynard started the wine brand Caduceus. The film Blood Into Wine illustrates the long, painful and expensive learning process of what it takes to start a winery and to try to sell your product after years of struggle. Glomski balanced the eccentricities of his partner, Maynard, in this realistic and good-natured movie. Expect some colorful language during some interviews, almost as colorful as the wine now coming out of Arizona. Blood Into Wine can be found on Amazon Prime.
Brought together by a curious twist of fate on a dusty California road, a wandering vintner and a struggling Calistoga wine expert find their lives and their careers forever transformed at a blind Parisian wine tasting (the “Judgment of Paris”) that introduced the world to the extraordinary wines of Napa Valley. Bottle Shock is set in 1976. At the time, Napa Valley had yet to gain its reputation as one of world’s best-known wine regions. This feature film, currently featured on Amazon Prime, is a fun and light reenactment of this historic event that in many ways, is the reason why there is thriving wine business in California.
Spend time with family, friends and loved ones by enjoying this selection of wine films. Just make sure your corkscrew and popcorn are at the ready!