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"Wine Is …" Wins 2010 Wine Spectator Video Contest

Heart-warming Paso Robles video is the viewers' choice

Gloria Maroti Frazee
Posted: September 21, 2010

Ask any wine lover why they like wine, and you’ll get an answer that moves quickly beyond taste and texture, acidity levels and oak barrels. As the winning video says, “Wine is more than just fermented grape juice.” Wine connects us to history and agrarian values, science and romance, craftsmanship, friendship, fun, hard work and a dream realized. Joel Peterson captured all this and more in his video, which features nearly three dozen winemakers, sommeliers and retailers in the Paso Robles wine community.

Ask Joel Peterson, and he’ll tell you, “Wine’s part of my life and I hope it always is.” He came to Paso Robles after losing his Hollywood film industry job during the 1999 strike and making ends meet by selling wine at Whole Foods. He called Justin Baldwin about a harvest internship and refused to be deterred by Baldwin’s warnings about backbreaking labor. Joel has since worked for a few other Paso pioneers, including Gary Eberle, Stephan Asseo at L’Aventure, and Austin Hope at Hope Family Wines where he is currently director of communications.

The video brings together Joel’s passions for wine and film and Paso Robles, but it actually started with a bout of insomnia. Shortly after he saw an advertisement for the contest, he woke up in the middle of the night and started scribbling down ideas and by the time his wife stirred in the morning and asked, “What in the world are you doing?!”, the video was sketched out.

“Paso is a special place. The winemaking community is close; wine really binds us together … Even though we’re competitors, we’re friendly competitors … The people in the video are all friends and most of them were in my cell phone already.” With the help of videographers Dina Mande (whose video, How to Name a Wine, was also a finalist in the contest) and Steve Gould, Joel shot the video over a few weekends, interviewing winemakers in their wineries and vineyards around Paso Robles. “It was easy. Everyone said, ‘Sure! Come on by!’ Even though they used different words and there was a variety of answers … they all had smiles on their faces. They were excited to talk about their wines, about their region.”

Kudos to Joel and the wine community of Paso Robles. As the winner, Joel has received a pair of tickets to the 2010 New World Wine Experience in Las Vegas, which will take place on Oct. 28–30.

This year’s contest again drew a wide range of submissions and a record number of votes. Finalists’ themes ranged from a tour of Barossa to a spoof of The Office to realizing the dream (and work) of starting a winery.

The first runner-up was a creative and riotously funny mockumentary about Château Miller, a fictional winery in Atlanta which was contributed by Connor Taylor, aka winemaker Christophe Miller. (The appellation is in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward and the secret to making great wines is in the fine asphalt soils …) The second runner-up, “Almost an Island,” from Bonnie Ernst, is about Presqu’Ile Winery, which rose from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and follows two young winemakers, Matt Murphy (from the South) and Dieter Cronje (from South Africa).

In his fourth turn as a finalist, Troy Campione submitted “Got Merlot?” which humorously combined a wine contest with information about a grape maligned in the movie Sideways. The other finalists were “A Vineyard Fantasy,” a musical about starting a winery from Patrick and Patricia Callahan; “Barossa Shiraz,” a down-to-earth vineyard tour with Matt Gant of First Drop Wines; “How to Name a Wine,” from Dina Mande; “In Vino Veritas,” where wine wins out when mediation goes bad, from Steve Aguilar and Gary Diamond; and “Castaway Chef,” about making the best of a shipwreck (with wine) from James Morrison.

This year’s winner hailed from Paso Robles as did 2009’s winning video from Evan Baldwin, “Paso Rap.” We believe the challenge has been made to other wine regions. Or will next year’s contest make it a clean sweep for the folks from Paso? Either way, it’s time to start thinking about your entry; the deadline for submission will be Aug. 31, 2011.

Watch the videos at WineSpectator.com.

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