Nearly everyone can name a film festival -- Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival -- to name a few; but how many can name one with a focus solely on wine? None, until now. Wil Fernandez, the guy who brought us the award-winning Vintage 2014: The story behind the vines, has come back with an annual event to celebrate wine in film.
In the beginning: Vintage 2014
Vintage 2014 followed the grape exploits of wine makers and grape growers in Santa Barbara County by creating 3 shorts films and giving viewers the magic of being there throughout the 2014 vintage using stills, time-lapse and video. Not only did he give the wine community, bloggers and wine writers a new appreciation for an average 125-day growing season, but Wil's Vintage 2014 captured Winner Best New Media in the 2015 New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles and featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The film was also an official selection in the 2014 Key West Film Festival and the project won Best Single Subject Blog in the 2015 Wine Blog Awards.
The culmination of that work was a virtual screening and simultaste featuring bloggers (including me) from all over the country. Over 100 people actively participated, while thousands watched:
The success of Vintage 2014 gave Wil another idea: What about a Film Festival that focuses entirely on wine-related films? The International Wine Film Festival was born!
International Wine Film Festival 2016
"The first annual International Wine Film Festival will celebrate the perfect pairing of wine and film, featuring the best wine-themed movies, short films, and web videos along with tasting fine wines from all over the world," says founder and director of the festival, Wil Fernandez.
Timed to coincide with the 16th Annual World of Pinot Noir, held this year at the Bacara resort in Santa Barbara on March 4th and 5th, the three-week-long Wine Film Festival begins on Valentine's day with a "Wine Country Date Night Dinner and a Movie" in Solvang at Larner Vineyard. As of this writing there is one Table for Two ticket left at $125 per person. Benefiting the Allan Hancock Viticulture Program Scholarship, this Valentine's Day event will allow 20 couples to dine privately in a vineyard setting, followed by a multi-course dessert during a screening of SOMM 2: Into the Bottle.
Wil says when he looked around at the various existing film festivals those set in wine country merely use it as venue. "This is the first that solely focuses on films using wine as a theme and brings audiences into the vineyard to watch them,” he says.
For his inaugural wine film festival, Wil returns to Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley.
"The festival is a great way to remind people that the authentic wine country experience is just a short trip from the coast," said Shelby Sim, Executive Director of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. "We're thrilled to share all that our valley has to offer during this inaugural event.”
The International Wine Film Festival will culminate with an awards ceremony and screening of winning films in a 211-seat state-of-the-art theater at the luxury Bacara Resort & Spa set on 78 acres of oceanfront property, including two miles of natural beach. It will tie in with the annual World of Pinot Noir event—two days of in-depth tasting seminars hosted by participating wineries and featuring an outstanding panel of sommeliers from around the world.
In addition to the Valentine's Day Date Night, the festival will an Afternoon Vineyard Screening and Tasting at Grassini Vineyards on Saturday, February 20, and an Evening of Wine & Film Pairing Flights at Presqu'ile Winery in Santa Maria on Wednesday, March 2.
International Wine Festival Simultaste Twitter Event
A virtual screening and simultaste event on February 17th will allow participants to bestow a People's Choice Award. Top Bloggers from around the Country will lead the live event which will feature film makers and wine makers from around the globe. All (legal aged) wine and film lovers are invited to participate. Participants are invited to open their favorite bottle, swirl and sip while screening the best in wine-themed video content from the past year. Twitterati are invited to use hashtag #WINEFILM to celebrate the event, and create a memory of the hour-long conversation. Schedule for the event will be as follows:
5:30pm PT - Welcome with introductions
Share what you're sipping
5:35pm PT - Links to selected films posted
Q&A with film makers & featured personalities
6:00pm PT - Links to selected films posted
Q&A with film makers & featured personalities
6:25pm PT - Open voting for 24 hours
Choose your favorite short films for Peoples Choice Award
Win a Copy of Somm: Into the Bottle!
As part of its countdown to start, the International Wine Film Festival is giving away a copy of the newly released SOMM: Into the Bottle to 14 lucky people. To enter, visit the contest site between now and February 14th!
Film Selection and Sponsors
Films for the inaugural festival were selected by a committee and jury made up of top wine bloggers and journalists from major wine industry publications. Wine sponsors include Presqi'ile Winery, Grassini Family Vineyards, Larner Vineyard & Winery, Tyrrell's Wines, Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Star Lane Vineyard, Kita Wines, Foxen Vineyard & Winery, Carr Winery, Riverbench Winery and Yalumba Wines.
Food Sponsors include Bob's Well Bread Bakery, Far Western Tavern and Colectivo Felix. Local Santa Barbara partners include Santa Ynez Valley, Viticole, World of Pinot Noir, Funflicks Outdoor Movies, Visit Santa Barbara, Edible Santa Barbara and Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours of Santa Ynez Valley.
See you February 7th on Twitter!