On a summer trip to Piedmont in Italy, Seattle-based filmmaker Will Miceli fell in love with the abundance of great wine and food in the region. But the story of the Abbona family, the owners of Piedmont’s Marchesi di Barolo winery, was what truly won his heart. When it came down to choosing a subject for Wine Spectator’s 2018 Video Contest, spotlighting these vintners was a no-brainer.
“I [wanted] viewers to get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the family when they let their guard down,” Miceli told Wine Spectator. “It's cute how they interact with each other, especially while watching a Juventus soccer match in the family room.”
He captured that vision in “The Soul of Barolo,” the winning video in this year’s contest, chosen by a vote of WineSpectator.com visitors. Running a family business is no small feat, as Miceli makes evident, and Ernesto and Anna Abbona and their adult children, Valentina and Davide, all live busy lives. But the family makes time to catch up over lunch on the terrace.
“We all gather together around the table to eat, chat about our lives and make new plans—a very Italian concept and a special family time with which we grew up and that we truly cherish,” said Valentina. “That’s why we recreated that moment of pure magic on film.”
When Miceli wasn’t behind the camera to capture those moments, he was joining the Abbonas for meals. It wasn’t long before they deemed him an honorary member of the family.
“Davide makes the best tiramisu, my favorite dessert,” said Miceli. “I also got to sit in [Ernesto’s] seat, eat his food and, best of all, drink the 1958 Barolo. It was like a dream.”
Miceli has won two full weekend passes to Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, where the video will be screened for more than 1,000 of the event’s attendees.
The second-place winner, “I am Brian Benson,” keeps family at the forefront. Benson of Brian Benson Cellars shares the story of how he went from helping at his grandfather’s vineyard as a kid to running his own winery in California’s Paso Robles region alongside his wife.
“I want viewers to see Brian as an interesting and very passionate winemaker by the choices in quality of fruit and his process,” filmmaker Eric Paczkowski told Wine Spectator. From the Los Angeles area, Paczkowski met Benson during a wine-tasting trip to Paso Robles with friends several years ago and thought he would make an inspiring subject.
The theme of family, mixed with romance, carries through to the third-place winner, “Amore Amarone,” which takes viewers on the journey of a husband and wife as they leave the kids at home to take their dream vacation. After years of promising to take the trip, the couple finally ventures to Italy to rekindle their passion, for each other and for the country’s wines.
“Going to Italy as a 10-year wedding anniversary did wonders for our marriage,” said Duane Fogwell, an Australian film editor now based in Los Angeles. “We learnt to slow down from our hectic lives, and that it’s OK to have a glass or two of Amarone at lunch.”
There’s something for everyone to enjoy amid the 2018 contest finalists and honorable mentions: They will make you laugh, feel nostalgic (and perhaps inspired), and might teach you something new about the world of wine. Watch all the winners, finalists and honorable mentions share how wine won their hearts.