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.
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.
We ended up interviewing seventy or so winemakers, critics and fans from around the country, some two dozen of them winding up in the final cut. And the story is much bigger than wine. We found a theme: most of these people weren’t born into wine, but it struck them as a revelation and they started their lives over in the industry. There are bigger themes: American dreams, reinvention, rebirth, passion, courage.
The whole process of making our first feature was a learning experience. We should have known what we were in for after our experience making A Country Wedding, a short film that consumed an entire summer. Now we’re into the festival and distribution process, and we’re suddenly getting emails from festivals around the world interested in looking at the film. It’s taking on a life of its own. People from around the world have also backed the project. It’s amazing and heartening to to have so many folks join a creative project by donating a little or a lot just because they want to see it happen. In a world that’s often dark and troubled, it gives you great faith in the human spirit when strangers give you a thumbs up and encouragement.
Talking to our winemakers and interview subjects was also an inspiring endeavor. When the going got tough, funds ran low and edits failed to come together, the determination of our subjects inspired us to push through.
Now we’re able to share the project with audiences. It’s a bit nerve wracking and also a little thrilling. We’re showing a sneak preview a the River Bend Film Festival on April 5. We’ll also have our wine country debut at the Mendocino Film Festival in May, and we’re excited to be announcing our official world premiere festival next week. We’ll be screening at the International Pinot Noir Celebration on our home turf in Oregon in July, and lots of other events are coming together before we make the switch to online distribution.
A growing number of friends, wine fans and film buffs have been following and supporting the project, and now we’re excited to be taking the project on the road, and we hope to be able to connect with many of you along the way.