Reality TV Show Planned for California Wine Country

Contestants will compete for chance to start their own wine label
Aug 19, 2005

Who wants to be a winemaker? That is the question that producers Kevin Whelan and Jennifer Levine will be asking as they scout California's Central Coast next week for possible locations and winemakers to include in their new PBS reality show, The Wine Makers.

The six-part series, which is scheduled to begin preproduction in December, will feature five contestants, all with a strong interest in wine, competing for a chance to launch their own wine label, Whelan said. Contestants will test their mettle in every aspect of the wine industry, from viticulture to enology to sales and marketing.

Or, as the press release puts it, "In each half-hour episode, the five candidates must endure backbreaking work, long hours and the joys and heartaches of making the world's most storied beverage."

The series will likely include scenes shot in the Central Coast's most popular wine regions: Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, which was made famous by the success of the 2004 film Sideways. The producers may also include segments from other wine-producing destinations, such as Australia.

Whelan already has a background in wine television, as he worked on the PBS series Wine 101, narrated by David Hyde Pierce (best known as Niles from the hit TV show Frasier). The company he cofounded, Doc City Production, also produced the PBS wine and travel show Tales from the Vineyard.

But who will the five candidates be? Anyone from enology grad students to chefs to waiters to wine geeks seeking a career change, as long as they've got strong wine knowledge.

Whelan said the screening process will be rigorous. The first step will be an essay reviewed by a panel of wine experts, while the second-level screening will be done in a series of casting calls held at stores such as Sur La Table, Fresh Fields, Best Cellars and Total Wines.

Anyone interested in filling out an application and writing an essay can send their name, phone number and e-mail address to info@doccitytv.com. Whelan or Levine will, as they say in Hollywood, "get back to you."

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