For me, producing documentary films about wine has become a celebration of people and places around the world. I’ve interviewed vintners, both male and female, who are everyday folks, sport celebrities, rock & roll icons, a national news correspondent, the legendary owner of the infamous “Two Buck Chuck,” a reality TV show star, a scent sommelier, a former U.S. Ambassador, renowned winemakers, migrant workers who have become winery owners, innovative chefs and a steer saved from slaughter who has his own wine label.
Characteristic in common: their passion for wine.
Why is the lowly grape and its fermented juice so fascinating to so many people?
In the process we’ve learned so many things to share. Their stories illustrate their collective belief that wine, like art, music, food and sport is a cultural bridge. Wine is produced all over the world. There are hundreds of different varieties that reflect the soil, the wind, and the sun around them. Each vintage is a homage to nature and I think that’s wherein the passion lies.
For example, we spent an afternoon with Kathryn Hall, vintner at Hall Wines in the Napa Valley. Kathryn is beautiful and accomplished, an attorney, activist, businesswoman, and diplomat. Her fluorescent pink sandals and nail polish hint at the fun side of her dignified persona. The view from the private estate and winery is breathtaking, high above the lush vines that descend to the valley floor.
Kathryn was the United States Ambassador to Austria and she recalls her initial reaction to the acidic wine, Gruner Veltliner, so different from the robust California wines she was used to. When her palate adapted, her love for this local white wine began.
She also tells me she has a most romantic story about her husband. Her family owned vineyards in Mendocino County and she always dreamed of returning there to make wine one day. When her parents died, her siblings voted to sell the land and she was crushed. Her husband said, “Don’t be sad, Kathryn, I’ll find some better land for us to grow grapes and make wine.” And boy did he ever! That guy has scored points to last for the rest of his life!
(The Kathryn Hall 2009 Cabernet has been selected by wine guru Robert Parker as the second best wine in the world.)
My team at Zan Media is donating half of all the proceeds from the sale of these two movies, to the Marin-based nonprofit Roots of Peace, whic has a Mines to Vines program that removes landmines in war-torn countries and replants the land. In Croatia, for example, a former winemaking area is now reopening their tasting room doors. There are many beautiful Roots of Peace stories also to be shared, and we are so proud to partner with these wonder proponents of world peace!