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'A Brief History of Merlot' Wins 2012 Wine Spectator Video Contest

Gundlach Bundschu puts Merlot back in the spotlight

Posted: September 18, 2012

It’s a familiar tale of failure and redemption. This time, though, the hero isn’t a politician or a movie star. It’s a grape. “A Brief History of Merlot” combined storytelling, education and humor, and won the popular vote as best wine video in Wine Spectator’s sixth annual contest. Watch the Winner, Finalists and Honorable Mentions

Submitted by Gundlach Bundschu of California’s Sonoma Valley, the video slyly uses a movie to earn back the credibility destroyed by an earlier movie, drawing a sympathetic portrait of the varietal that received a sound drubbing in the film Sideways.

In 2004, wine snob Miles had whined to his Sideways sidekick, "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any f***ing Merlot." Movie-goers reacted, demand fell and Merlot acreage in Sonoma County dropped by nearly 50 percent. But now the finicky grape is back home in vineyards where it belongs, and the overall quality of Merlot has improved.

Reflecting this real-world drama, the video’s story arc follows the journey of a classical hero. Starting off on top of the world, he loses everything, then goes on a quest, overcoming challenges to find his way home and ultimately "getting his mojo back."

“We wanted to tell a story and have a lot of fun with it,” said Jeff Bundschu, president of Gundlach Bundschu. Marketing director Susan Sueiro wrote and directed the entry, which has a music video feel. It wasn’t hard finding “some willing friends who weren’t afraid to put on disco clothes,” continued Jeff, “because it’s not hard to throw a party around here. You just open some wine and it all works.”

The GunBun team has earned a pair of tickets to the 2012 Wine Experience on Oct. 18–20 in Los Angeles, where their video will be shown as part of the program.

This year’s contest drew entries from all over the world and broke the record for the largest number of voters. Among the finalists, "Winemaking in Thailand" finished second, and "Finger Lakes = Riesling" took third.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your entry for 2013.

Greg Flanagan
Bethel CT —  September 18, 2012 12:57pm ET
There should be two categories for video of the year.

1.) "insiders" - vids that are produced by those in the wine biz

And...

2.) "average joe"- vids that are produced by those that have a passion and interest in the the wine world....but not the intimate access/resources of owners/vintners/CEOs.....
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  September 20, 2012 4:34pm ET
I agree completely with Greg and was just having this discussion with others. I've watched this contest go from mostly "Average Joe" at inception to mostly "Insiders" today. The "Insiders" videos are often quite self-promotional and are backed up by substantial resources. That has never been more clearly the case than this year's selections. I have toyed with the idea of submitting something but I really don't have the time/money/disposition to invest in something that won't even crack the top 10.
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  September 20, 2012 5:05pm ET
Greg, Troy: It's true that the videos submitted to our contest have changed over time, from mostly "amateurs" to many "professionals", and the latter often do include promotional aspects. It seems as though the voting public has favored the latter in recent years, but the judges prefer to have as wide a variety of entries as possible to consider. We very much hope that all kinds of wine lovers will submit videos in the future.

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator

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