Screening in Los Angeles

Here comes the second screening of the film, and it will happen downtown Los Angeles! Lots of people on twitter, by email, and in person, have asked me when the film would find its way to South California, so this is it!

Immediately following the screening, there will be a Q&A with the lead filmmaker. I’ll take all your questions! And around 9pm, you are all welcome to party with us at BUZZ Wine Shop, a recently-opened natural wine bar, 2 blocks from the theatre. Get this: you will have the chance to taste the wines from all the winemakers in the film! That’s where your 5$-tasting ticket will come into play.

Buy your ticket now, spread the word, save the date – September 22 – and get ready for an evening filled with fun, entertainment, wine and friends! Santé!

Posted in event, Los Angeles, natural wine, project evolution, screening, wine tasting | 1 Comment

The first screening of “Wine From Here” a success!

Last Thursday August 25 was the very first public screening of Wine From Here: Natural Wine in California and it all happened in beautiful San Francisco. Based on the turnout and the feedback we received throughout the night, we can proudly say: mission accomplished!

Wine From Here, August 25 7pm

The crowd at the Victoria Theatre in the Mission District of San Francisco consisted of about 200 thirsty fans eager to taste this documentary about a controversial topic: the natural wine movement in California. An opportunity to watch 10 prominent California natural winemakers sharing their passion on the big screen.

It is quite something – watching the crowd (watching your own work) and monitoring its reaction. Expected laughter for some scenes, but unexpected laughter for other scenes! It was hard not to be nervous. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves: what will the audience think about those 60 minutes which took us a year to put together?

"Wine From Here" fans

After the screening there was a Q&A with the directors, as well as a Q&A with most of the winemakers featured in the film. Lots of questions, lots of opinions, some criticism, some support. In short, some good action!

Q&A with film directors

Q&A with winemakers

After the panel discussion, the crowd was ripe for a practical natural wine experience at Heart. And as a bonus: the wine list was made up of wines produced by winemakers featured in the film they had just watched. Check it out right here:

And those 7 winemakers from the wine list were right there mingling at the after-screening party. Picture this: hang out in the most fascinating wine bar in the Mission, and sip on amazing California wines while meeting and talking to the people who made the wine you are holding in your glass. It would be hard to do any better than that!

Happy crowd @ Heart

The winemakers from the film were not the only famous people in the room that night. The natural wine queen, Alice Feiring, was also part of the fun. You can see her down below talking with Kevin Kelley, founder and winemaker at the Natural Process Alliance. She was probably telling stories of her road trip to promote Naked Wine, her recently-released book. Now, here’s what’s bugging me: why are their glasses empty?

Alice Feiring & Kevin Kelley

All these pieces put together made for an electric atmosphere. Courtney Cochran, from Eater SF, came down to party and talk to the film’s stars.

Courtney Cochran and Gideon Beinstock

Courtney Cochran and Hardy Wallace









Both my brother and I talked to Courtney and we were pleased to hear she was having a good time too. Here is an excerpt from her wrap-up of the evening:

As I watched party-goers line up four- and sometimes six-deep at the bar to score pours like Coturri’s soulful Mendocino Carignane and Dashe Cellars’ electric dry Riesling from Potter Valley, the quiet natural wine movement’s momentum settled in. Battered by numerous elbows and shoves, any of my ruffled feathers were soothed by the graciousness and eager enthusiasm of the documentary’s featured vintners.

Indeed, there was a lot of hustle-bustle! When it was all over, Jeff Segal (Heart’s owner) happily admitted that pouring wine to so many people at the same time was a real challenge. It makes you wonder why you weren’t there as well, doesn’t it?

Find the 3 winemakers in this picture!

All in all, it was quite rewarding to see so many people that night, joining the fun and celebrating an important project milestone: the very first public screening of “Wine From Here“!

Mission accomplished!

Thanks to all of you for your support, your feedback on the film, and also for hanging out with us on that night! Santé!

Psst. Here’s a tip: stay tuned for some follow-up action down in Los Angeles in September!

Posted in event, project evolution, San Francisco, wine tasting | 2 Comments

Special screening & tasting

I am very proud to announce that the documentary film is now ready to be shown to the public! And what better context than to show it during San Francisco’s Natural Wine Week at the end of August!

After the film screening, there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers and the winemakers from the film who will be present in the audience. We’ll take all your questions! And around 9pm, you are all welcome to party with us at Heart, the coolest natural wine bar, just a few blocks down, on Valencia Street. You will be able to meet and talk to most of the winemakers in the film… and have the opportunity to taste their wine! That’s where your 5$-tasting ticket will come into play.

Buy your ticket now, spread the word, save the date – August 25 – and get ready for an evening filled with fun, entertainment, wine and friends! 🙂

Now official:

  • Darek Trowbridge (Old World Winery) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Gideon Beinstock (Clos Saron) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Hank Beckmeyer (La Clarine Farm) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Kevin Kelley (NPA) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Mike Dashe (Dashe Cellars) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Steve Edmunds (Edmunds St. John) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
  • Tony Coturri (Coturri Winery) will be pouring his wine @ Heart!
Posted in event, movie, project evolution, screening | 7 Comments

A visit to Ridge Vineyards

Last Tuesday I visited Paul Draper from Ridge vineyards. You probably heard of the Judgment of Paris in 1976 which, according to many, put California on the wine map? Paul Draper had one of his wines at this event: the Monte Bello 1971. And that Monte Bello Cabernet was among California’s finest wines of the era.

I was fortunate enough to interview Paul Draper in his Monte Bello vineyard, on the very top of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. We talked quite a bit about California wine history, because I had in front of me one of the pioneers of the current natural wine movement. However, Paul prefers the term “traditional wine”, emphasizing on the fact that the way he makes his wine in the winery today is quite similar to how it was made in the old days, before prohibition. We also ventured into such topics as irrigation, ingredients labeling and overripeness. Interesting bits of info which I keep for the film!

Grapes to be!

Ridge has been known for producing but also encouraging vineyard-designated wines. To offer a wine made from grapes coming from a very specific location is of paramount importance to Paul Draper. If you blend grapes coming from different locations, according to Paul, you are then exposing the identity of the winemaker, and therefore you miss the taste of the place. Here is an excerpt on this topic:

Thanks Paul for your time and the good discussions!

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Last lap before the film’s completion

For the last 2 months, I’ve been iterating on a rough cut of the final movie, improving it based on the feedback I gathered from friends and colleagues. Special mention: props to John Trinidad who gave me the most extensive and helpful feedback. Thanks my friend!

Now I’m one month away from completing the film itself. I should be done in the middle of July. All the clips and animation sequences must be in place, the picture must be color-corrected, and all of that accompanied by a decent soundtrack. Trust me, there is not much time left and my plate is full to the brim.

Lance Armstrong in action during the Tour de France 2009

I will be in San Francisco during that time, sprinting to reach the finish line.

The last lap has begun!

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Earth Day Every Day with Natural Wine

Image credit: I added text around this beautiful Blue Planet image from NASA.

Today, on Earth day, my statement is simple: by drinking natural wine, I support sustainable and organic farming methods in the vineyards. Easy.

And tasty!

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A visit to Alice Feiring

At the beginning of April, I flew to NYC to meet the most famous natural wine writer in the world: Alice Feiring. She wrote the book most of us read as our first book on the topic of natural wine: The Battle for Wine and Love. And now she’s a few months away from publishing her second book: Naked Wine.

Alice has been writing about wine (natural or not) almost exclusively since 2000. She certainly has a global perspective on the natural wine movement (beyond California), and I wanted to take that into account during the interview. I asked her about the roots of this movement which originated in Beaujolais in France, but also about the roots of the nascent movement in California. Here is an excerpt:

Thanks a lot for your time Alice. It was a real honor to meet you at last!

Posted in interview, natural wine | 1 Comment

The trailer is out!

Big day today! We show the world the trailer for our documentary on natural wine in California. This is done via the launch of a brand new website, just for the film:

Let me know what you think!

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Film trailer around the corner

Yeah, you heard correctly. The trailer for my documentary film Wine From Here will be out soon! Next week it is!

Earth Week

What better timing to release the film trailer than during Earth Week (April 16-22)? The objective of Earth Week, as was proclaimed by the Earth Week committee in 1970, is to raise public awareness of environmental problems and their potential solution. So how is Earth Week relevant for a film about wine?

In conventional farming, the heavy use of artificial chemical products (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) is a serious environmental problem. Isn’t it obvious that this is soil pollution? Isn’t it obvious that those chemicals end up in the grapes, and later in the wine we drink? Personally, I don’t want to be drinking those wines.

Ashley and Chris from Black Sears, located on the top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, are two farmers who care about the environment they live in. Those stewards of the land use organic farming methods. Hear them out:

Put your body where your grapes are

Think about it. What if every wine consumer had to sleep one night in the vineyard where the grapes were grown? Would they want to be exposed to a bunch of chemicals? Would they like to sleep in a realm of chemicals?

Angela Osborne, totally at ease in the vineyard.

Angela Osborne, who makes a delicious Santa Barbara Grenache, A Tribute To Grace, is one of those winemakers who care about organic farming methods. As you can see, she certainly has no problem putting her body where her grapes are!

Stay tuned. The film trailer is around the corner.

Posted in organic farming, project evolution | 1 Comment

How Wine Became modern @ SF MOMA

Last week I went to see the “How Wine Became modern” exhibition @ SF MOMA. Nothing exceptional, but certainly interesting.

Photo: © Matthew Millman, courtesy SFMOMA

The Stuff

The most relevant section for me, in the context of my documentary about natural wine, was the collection of maybe 50 different products commonly added to wine: different types of color, synthetic tannins, nutrients, phenols, etc. Lots of stuff!

On the glass separating me from this collection of stuff, there were nice quotes from different people in the wine world. Here are some iPhone pictures of them:

Interesting trivia

  • In 1976, 13% of world wine was exported
  • In 2011, 34% of world wine is exported
  • In 1990, the EU subsidized some vine uprooting to create scarcity (!)
  • 81% of Australian wine is exported today
  • 18% of American wine is exported today
  • Nothing in Canada is classified as “ideal wine region”, except for a tiny part in Souther Ontario.

DRC 1946: priceless

I was attracted by a piece of art from Nicolas Boulard: a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, 1946. Purpose of the artist? To highlight the vulnerability to counterfeiting high-valued wines (a DRC 1945 magnum is worth around $80 000). Indeed, in 1945, Burgundy’s most esteemed 4.4 acres got devastated by phylloxera and the vines had to be uprooted. But the vineyard was not replanted until 1947, marking a blank spot for the 1946 vintage!

The exhibition will last until April 17. If you happened to be in San Francisco, give it a shot, it’s worth it.

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