If you think you know what someone means when she says “the ‘F’ Word,” you probably have not spent much time with a winemaker. Talk of Lady parts and Mother Nature’s ass — it was not quite was I expected when Wil Fernandez sent me a sneak preview of VINTAGE 2014: the stories behind the vines.
I have seen some of the initial filming, and the photography is stunning, but I was not prepared to be so entertained. I mean — it’s a documentary right? Gawd, I usually hate those — but VINTAGE 2014 is not that. You actually feel like you are right there in the vineyard!
I had also spent some time last summer in the Sta. Rita Hills with Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen, so I knew he was what my parents’ generation describe as “quite a character.” “Anything on a plate that costs more than $100 smells like ass or Nature’s woman parts,” he says at one point in the first film, and Wes is just getting started. But it’s not just Hagen, there are other wine personalities featured as well.
VINTAGE 2014: the stories behind the vines premiers online at 5:30 PST (8:30 EST) Wednesday, December 10th. Participating wineries sifted through all the applications from food writers and wine bloggers, then sent samples to select individuals who will be opening their bottles for a live virtual tasting to run simultaneously with the films’ premier.
We will be opening a bottle of Byron 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, one of Wine Enthusiast’s The Enthusiast 100 of 2014, describing its “intriguing nose of Berry fruit leather, raspberry iced tea and dark spice,” in their December 31, 2014 issue out now. I picked up a fresh young duckling from The Fresh Market to serve with it, and am looking forward to seeing how they pair during the Simultaste!
Participating wineries for the December 10th online premier will include:
• Event Moderator (@DirtDontLie)
• Wil Fernandez (@WilFernandez), Producer & Director, VINTAGE 2014
• Jonathan Nagy (@ByronWinery), Winemaker, Byron Winery
• Chris Hammell (@BienNacido), Vineyard Manager, Bien Nacido Vineyards
• Wes Hagen (@WesHagen), Winemaker & Vineyard Manager, Clos Pepe Estate Vineyard
• Karen Steinwachs (@ButtonwoodWine), Winemaker, Buttonwood Farm, Vineyard & Winery
• Laura Booras (@Riverbench), General Manager, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery
• Bill Wathen (@FoxenWinery), Winemaker & Vineyard Manager, Foxen Vineyards and Winery
• Michael Larner, (@LarnerWine), Winemaker, Larner Vineyard & Wines
• Ryan Carr (@CarrWinery), Winemaker & Vineyard Manager, Carr Winery
• Eric Carucci (@CARRUCCIwines), Winemaker, Carucci Wines
Find out who is into rocks, eating dirt and chewing bark! Join us on twitter at promptly 7:30 p.m. Central (5:30 PST/8:30 EST) Any wine enthusiast can join in to ask questions about the vintage, wines and the project. By using the hashtag #vintage2014 on Twitter, messages will automatically become part of the discussion.
See you online!
Watch Vintage 2014: The Stories Behind the Vines!
Update: During the #Vintage2014 @DirtDontLie Simultaste, Wil released VINTAGE 2014, series of three short films that follow the 2014 wine grape growing season in Santa Barbara County. They were produced and screened as a part of a national “wine & film pairing” tour. The format allows audiences to sample the featured wines before and between each of the short films, creating a unique feature-film length experience.
Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe Vineyard & Winery take you out into the vineyard to explain dormancy. Winemaker Karen Steinwachs from Buttonwood Farm Vineyard and Winery shows you her favorite spot in the Santa Ynez Valley and admits to frost concerns due to early bud break.
Then, the two sit down with Laura Booras, General Manager of Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, for a bawdy (hint: chickenshit and lady parts) roundtable discussion about how the vineyard touches the business, farming and winemaking aspects of their jobs.
In the second film, Steve Pepe, owner of Clos Pepe Vineyard & Winery talks about the financial impact of frost on a vineyard. Clarissa Nagy, winemaker at Riverbench shows how they defend against frost. And drought concerns grow as Spring rains fail to come and the crew makes a visit to Foxen‘s Tinaquaic Vineyard, one of the only dry-farmed vineyards in Santa Barbara County.
During a winemaker dinner, Michael Larner expands on the challenges of wearing many hats as a small production wine producer and Wes Hagen proclaims his love for Santa Barbara County’s food culture. A second visit to Foxen’s Tinaquaic Vineyard in June shows the impact of drought and severe heat spikes on the early stages of fruit development.
In the third film, the crew joins winemaker Michael Larner in the vineyard as he explains the ripening of fruit and the challenges that birds present. Jonathan Nagy, winemaker at Byron Winery shows how Byron is strategically pruning their vines and dropping fruit to achieve consistency.
A final visit to Tinaquaic Vineyard with Bill Wathen of Foxen Winery reveals the perils of dry farming in a drought. Luckily, Foxen sources grapes from other irrigated vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Bill takes the crew to meet Chris Hammel, Vineyard Manager at Bien Nacido in the Santa Maria Valley.
As harvest approaches, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager Ryan Carr takes the crew out for an early morning sampling and to show how he decides when to pick. Watch the hustle and bustle of an early harvest at Clos Pepe and other featured vineyards as the series ends.