American Wine Story banner, vineyard shot and quotes from press

Accomplished another long-standing goal: having a feature film screen at our local indie theater. And we shared the marquee with a Woody Allen flick, no less.

Darkside Cinema Marquee

Our opening night, Friday, August 22, sold out quickly, and Jim Day of Panache Cellars and Mary Olson of Airlie Winery were both on hand for the Q&A and to pour samples.

We’ve also had a bit more press recently:

Big week. Thanks to all the friends, community members and Darkside regulars who showed up in force to make it a special screening.  Thanks, too, to Paul, Lainie and Joey at the Darkside Cinema, still going strong with a boost from their recent Kickstarter campaign to upgrade their projection capabilities.

We’re starting a Twitter campaign around the #winemovie tag to encourage wine and film enthusiasts to come up with their perfect movie/vino combination. To help start things off, we’ve been asking all of the winemakers and filmmakers we’ve met and worked with while rolling out American Wine Story about their recommended pairings.

#winemovie - what's your perfect pairing?We’ve had some fascinating suggestions, and we can’t wait to share them. From Katherine Cole’s suggestion of Goldfinger with a ’47 Mouton-Rothschild to Oli Day’s insistence on two bottles of Montepulciano with Once Upon a Time in America (it’s a long picture), we’re queuing up a recipe for some serious binge watching. So keep an eye on the tag and every Wednesday (#WW!) and we’ll roll out a few more recommendations. And of course we want to hear what your favorite combinations are.

Looking for a place to start? List your five favorite movies and five of your favorite wines, then match the best pair, make some popcorn and camp out on the couch and see how it goes.

And what should you drink while watching American Wine Story? While any of the wines from the amazing producers in the film would be a safe bet, the ultimate would be an Alsatian Riesling as old as you can find. You might have to hunt around, but the better wine shops should have it and it won’t break your bank.

Why Alsatian? You’ll have to watch the film to find out!

 

We’ve been getting some fantastic media hits for American Wine Story. Here’s a roundup:

We’re currently at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where we’re premiering American Wine Story tomorrow. What we do as filmmakers would largely be pointless without the unimaginable amount of work that people at the NBFF and other festivals around the country do to bring audiences and indie films together.

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Without them, it would be nearly impossible for us to find a theater. From the day we were accepted, festival staff and volunteers were on the ground working to fill seats, passing out post cards, delivering media screeners, connecting us with the press and preparing to host us. They’ve gone out of their way to show hospitality to and create community for the filmmakers. What an honor to debut our film here.

April 14, 2014

Corvallis, Ore. – The locally produced feature documentary American Wine Story will premiere at the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival on Saturday, April 26. Selected from more than 2,000 submitted films, the documentary will screen three times at the festival, which attracted more than 50,000 film fans in 2013.

American Wine Story follows the stories of dozens of people who left behind past lives to pursue their winemaking dreams to various degrees of success. Much of the film follows the story of Portland native Jimi Brooks who passed away in 2004 at the age of 38 just as his business was beginning to take off. The Oregon wine community rallied to help save Brooks’s winery as a legacy for his eight-year-old son.

Other noted winemakers in the film include Oregon wine legend Dick Erath and former NFL star Drew Blesoe of Bend. The filmmakers interviewed winemakers and industry insiders from six different states.

The film was produced by Corvallis residents David Baker, Kegan Sims and Justin Smith, and also Truen Pence of Portland, who met while working in University Relations at Oregon State University and decided to pursue an independent project.

“We wanted to make a film that drew inspiration from the landscape around us,” said Baker, who directed the film.

“Since we’re in wine country, the concept was a natural fit. But it took us four years of travel and investigation to finally find our core story.”

After Newport Beach, the film will screen at the Mendocino Film Festival in May and as part of the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon in July.

“It’s still amazing to me that a film we produced on a shoestring budget here in Corvallis is going to screen at some of the more reputable festivals on the West Coast,” Baker said. “We’re just starting our festival run, so we’re excited to see where it goes from here.”

Contact: David Baker, dave@threecrowsmedia.com, 660.537.5009
Media Kit: http://bit.ly/1jEkeIY
Website: http://thewinemovie.com

We’re thrilled to announce the world premiere of American Wine Story at the Newport Beach Film Festival. It’s a great venue with lots of energy and should be a fantastic compliment to our sneak preview at the River Bend Film Festival and our wine country debut in Mendocino.

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You can now buy tickets for screenings on Saturday, April 26 at 3:15, Monday, April 28 at 12:30 and Wednesday, April 30 at noon.

If you’re in Southern California, pick up some tickets and we’ll see you in Orange County!

We’re thrilled to start sharing our documentary American Wine Story with audiences around the country a little shy of four years since we began the whole journey. In June of 2010, Truen Pence and I came upon a realization during a lunch break at our job: winemakers are great storytellers and vineyards are gorgeous. There had to be a film tucked somewhere in the lush, vine-laden hills of the Willamette Valley.

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Camera technology had just taken a leap, with cinema-quality footage more accessible than ever before. Having made shorts and commercials, designed a few things and written some scripts, we were itching to shoot something. We rounded up some fellow filmmakers and started shooting. What we discovered was a revelation and a surprise to us, and we hope it is to the audience as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

After four years, seven states, seventy interviews, three name changes and what seems like an endless process, we’re finally nearing the home stretch. Now we’ve got a rough edit of the film and we’re raising some finishing funds to help us launch the film in 2014.

After more than three years of roaming American vineyards and wineries, we’re finally on the home stretch of our feature documentary, American Wine Story. We’re closing in on 100 interviews, and we expect to take our very last trip this weekend, heading back to where it all started in Walla Walla and Washington’s wine country.

There’s plenty of work left, from audio mixing, to color correction, final edits, motion graphics and more. But look for the film in early 2014.

While making this documentary, we accumulated so many more stories than we can use in one feature documentary, so we’ll be posting clips from time to time that help show off the amazing personalities we met along the way. Mary Olson of Airlie Winery in Monmouth, Oregon is someone who always makes you feel at home. It’s the first Oregon winery I visited after moving here from the Midwest.

Aerial of Airlie Winery

I remember that visit well. It was a lovely, bright spring day, and we were the only guests. We walked into the tasting room, and Mary came in to meet us. “It’s too nice to stay inside,” she said. “Go out and have a seat, and I’ll bring you some wine.” We sat under a trellis, watching her Irish Setters splash in the pond, while she brought out wines, four at a time, sitting down and chatting with us between pours. Read the rest of this entry »

Had one of those magic moments today when things just fall into place. I was digging through the Oregon Wine History Archive at Linfield College (home of the International Pinot Noir Celebration), looking for whatever I could find in the collection of Oregon Pinot pioneer Dick Erath. I found a number of fantastic documents and slides.

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I’d gathered enough good material that I was all ready to call it a morning and start copying and scanning when I spotted a small, worn, aged notebook in the bottom of one of the boxes. I stopped short a moment. I knew it had to be something good.

When we interviewed Dick Erath, he described in detail his first shot at garage winemaking. It was a Semillon he bought from a local vineyard in California before he moved up to Oregon. A number of the slides I found showed him at work on a home rig from around that time. But the notebook held an even bigger surprise: his handwritten notes from making that vintage.

Dick Erath's notes

This is where the winemaker was born. Right from the start, you can see his meticulous attention to detail. On the back, he wrote down a long list of hydrometer readings, being beyond thorough. I recognized it right away…I use the same format in my own garage winemaking, though I’m a lot less precise and my handwriting is undecipherable. I guess that tells you something about why he founded one of the largest wineries in the Northwest and I’m still making wine in my garage.

In any case, I know right where, in the latest edit, a scan of this page will go. Making that discovery was a thrill. I felt like the wine geek equivalent of an enological Indiana Jones. The crackle of the old paper, the splotches that just might have been the must of a wine pioneer’s fledgling vintage: all of this is as exciting to me as Harrison Ford dodging some Mayan death traps. It’ll be a great addition to the story we’re telling.

We’ve been following the story of Jim Day for a few years now. He started out making his wine in borrowed corners of Corvallis-area wineries. He had his garage bonded as a storage facility last year, and now it’s a full-fledged production facility.

Jim Day's Panache Cellars

If you drive past this unassuming garage in a suburban neighborhood, you might not guess that it’s the home base for Day’s Panache Cellars label. The only clue is the sign warning that kids can only enter accompanied by an adult.

Inside, you’ll find a simple table, some cheese, a few friends and curious winery hoppers, and a flight of Jim’s Willamette Valley Pinot and Washington Sangiovese.

In a global industry rife with power players, you might think it’s somewhat hubristic to think you can compete by making wine in your garage and selling it in your driveway. But when we interviewed Dick Erath, we learned that that’s exactly how he began. Erath told us how he sold his first wines by unfolding a card table at the end of his driveway and selling wine to friends invited down from Portland and any other curious passers by.

And also like Erath, Day offers a line of excellent Pinot Noirs, Oregon’s signature varietal.

Will Jim Day follow on the heels of the Oregon wine pioneers and move production beyond his suburban driveway? Right now  he plans to stay small. But you never know.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in talking with seventy-something wine industry people: anything’s possible.

Vintage is a feature project we’re developing as a follow-up to our wine documentary. We’ve cut together a teaser, working with talented actors Seth Allen and Chuck Skinner, and are now moving onto the development and financing process. Anyone interested in the project should let us know as we look for cast, crew and production partners.

Here’s the final version of our video for “The Wind Kept,” by Brave Julius, directed by Santiago Uceda and starring Matthew Joel Flood and Dominique Valodovinos:

Our music video collaboration with Brave Julius and Santiago Uceda will premiere during a concert tomorrow night at the gorgeous Whiteside Theatre in Corvallis. Should be a great show, and what an amazing opportunity.

Thanks to the Gazette-Times for providing coverage of the event. The theater is a local treasure and an amazing creative space. I hope it continues to inspire creative spirits for another hundred years.  If your in Corvallis, please come by for the show. It’s only seven bucks!

Still depicting theatre and animation