In a famous paean to Napa Valley, Robert Louis Stevenson called its wines “bottled poetry.” Evan Baldwin updated the concept for modern California wines by writing a hard-driving rap song. The rhythmic take on the friendly competition between the east side and west side vineyards of Paso Robles has won Wine Spectator’s third-annual video contest.
Making the video was a team effort, from conception to writing to performing and directing. Baldwin's parents, Justin and Deborah, own Justin Vineyard & Winery, one of Paso’s leading wineries. After reading about the video contest, Deborah got the ball rolling, inspired by her son's rap songs. “I’ve been rapping since junior high,” said Evan, 18. “My friend ‘Casey G,’ that’s Casey Gilliam, helped me put it together.” The Baldwins also enlisted director James Raymond and two winery workers, Timothy Argie and Eric Connelly, since Evan is under 21 and therefore not eligible to appear in the video.
“We had one day to do all the shooting, starting at 6 a.m. and finishing around 9 or 10 o'clock at night,” said Evan, who had to teach the others the song—and the attitude. “Timothy and Eric had never rapped before and hadn’t even heard the music when they showed up in the morning. It was one long day.”
For their efforts, the Baldwin team has won a pair of tickets to the 2009 New York Wine Experience, which will take place Oct. 22-24. Evan will be able to present the video, but as his mother noted, “Probably Evan’s dad and I will participate in the tastings.”
This year’s contest drew the largest and most eclectic field of entrants yet, with themes ranging from Bollywood to film noir to terroir among the nine finalists. The top selections drew a record number of viewers, whose votes determined the winner and runners-up.
The first runner-up was another music video, “Worth the Wait,” with sultry sommelier Annie Shapero pairing wines with phases of life and love. The second runner-up was Scott Glosserman’s “Hot Bottle Issue,” a spoof of Wine Spectator’s search for the best wine in the world. Shapero and Glosserman each win two tickets to a Wine Spectator tasting, as do the other finalists.
In his third turn as a finalist, Troy Campione submitted "Wine Angels," which merged a send-up of "Charlie's Angels" with a Woody Allen-esque dinner scene and a Bollywood dance number to the lyrics "Wino." Rounding out the finalists are "New World vs. Old," a Mac vs. PC-style debate on terroir from Kyle Thomas; "Wine Detective," a vinous mystery about kosher wines from Mirra Manevich; a pair of educational videos shot in Napa vineyards, "Pinot: Bud to Bottle" from Stefan Sargent and "Night Harvest" from Steve Carolo; and, last, but not least, Agents T and A-Bomb show you how to have a blast with your own in-home wine tasting in "Agents of Wine" from Trevelyan Howard.
All nine finalists, along with nine honorable mentions, can be seen at Wine Spectator.com. We hope that next year's contest will draw even more videos.
Watch the videos at http://www.winespectator.com/videocontest2009.