James Darden thinks this may be his magic moment, and now, I’m rooting for him, hoping that this is his big break.
Darden, 37, is a contestant on the new PBS reality show, The Wine Makers, expected to air this fall. It’s sort of like The Apprentice, but instead of a desk job, contestants are competing for the opportunity to make and launch their own brand of wine. Each episode presents a unique wine-related challenge, and the winner stays, while the loser goes home.
The judges are a mix of winery owners, winemakers and wine writers, and the first episode was filmed in Paso Robles during harvest last October. For insight into how the show was staged, you can check out a video clip.
The clip shows how excited the original 12 contestants were as they met for their first detail—a 48-hour, real-life harvest, where they all took part in the crushing, pump-over and pressing processes.
Another episode involves a blind tasting, which was humbling, admits Darden, who is the sommelier at Angele in Napa. The next phase involves wine marketing and branding.
Nobody knows who will win yet. The finale will be filmed later in the year and, according to Darden, the remaining contestants have been asked to keep their passports handy. “It’s been very hush-hush,” he says. “They want the show to be spontaneous.”
It’s easy to see why Darden, a Fairfield, Calif. native, is a contender. He’s smart, articulate, handsome and easygoing, and he knows wine, having worked in the business for 15 years, mostly in wine service.
“Everybody has their moment they’re waiting for," he says. "I never thought I’d be in a reality show, but it’s lots of fun, a bit nerve wracking, and when I did the audition in San Francisco [last year], I figured I had nothing to lose.”
Or maybe everything to gain.
John C Winkelmann — Cincinnai — April 12, 2007 11:07am ET
Powell Yang — Napa, — April 12, 2007 5:31pm ET
Sarah Warner — Los Angeles, CA — April 19, 2007 9:44pm ET
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