Paso Robles is on a roll. In 2010, Saxum James Berry Paso Robles 2007 was named Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year. And for the third year in a row, a Paso Robles-based video has taken the Grand Prize in Wine Spectator's Video Contest. It joins "Wine Is …" (2010) and "Paso Rap" (2009) as the crowd favorites, along with "Wine and the City" (2008) and "A Toast to the Little Guys" (2007).
Submitted by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, "Zinfandel - Paso's Wine" continues the humorous, storytelling approach to wine that has attracted the popular vote. “Our goal was to entertain and educate,” said Meagan Callahan, communications manager for the group. “There’s a misconception about Zinfandel and where it’s from, so we wanted to make a video about the origins of the grape.”
The video originally launched in February 2011. Christopher Taranto, PRWCA marketing director, took the lead on the video, which was directed by Dina Mande of Juice Media. The entire video was shot in a single afternoon, over a four-hour period. The three locations were scouted out the day before and were within a 10-minute drive.
In separate interviews, Callahan and Mande echoed each other’s sentiments about Paso Robles. Not only do they make super Zinfandel and Rhône varietals and Cabernet Sauvignon, Callahan said, "I love Paso because it’s not intimidating. You can go to wineries and meet the winemaker." Mande added that, "In Paso, everyone makes wine and shares what they’re doing: My neighbor makes wine; my dentist makes wine."
The winners have earned a pair of tickets to the 2011 Wine Experience in New York, which will take place Oct. 20 to 22, where the video will be shown as part of the program.
This year’s contest broke the record for the largest voting audience. Videos were submitted from around the world—entries from California, Oregon, New York, France, Italy, Portugal and Australia were included among the finalists and honorable mentions.
The viewing audience is obviously pleased with Mande’s work, as she made the second place video, “Divorce Honeymoon,“ as well. It is the true story of how Mande found her footing after her divorce by traveling through Tuscany and Provence. Shot on her iPhone and edited on her laptop, the soundtrack was provided by a friend, singer-songwriter Michelle Featherstone. You might recognize Mande’s name because she shot last year’s winner as well.
“The Talking Grape” took third place. Named for its riotously funny star, it was produced by Lisa Mattson, Laura Petersen and Jamie McNaughton of Jordan Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. It succeeded by entertaining as it educated viewers about the oh-so-wondrous life of a wine grape.
In his record-breaking fifth turn as a finalist, Troy Campione submitted a vinous spoof on Forrest Gump, “Wine Will Take You Anywhere.” His previous entries are “Got Merlot?” “Wine Angels,“ “Wine Superhero“ and “Borat.“ Campione chuckled, “I’m shooting for the lifetime achievement award. You just keep running the contest and I’ll keep coming up with new short film spins on my passion for wine. And I’ll be in New York for the Grand Tasting Friday night.”
More wine-lovers were returning finalists. The Agents of Wine (alias Trev Howard and Aaron Norton) shot “A Case of Mistaken Identity,” explaining how to avoid counterfeit wines. Matt and JR from First Drop Wines in South Australia prepared a delicious lemon pasta pairing with Arneis in “Big Shack Cook-Up.”
A trio of first-time entrants rounded out the group of finalists. “The Gentleman and the Scientist” was an old-time silent video from aspiring enologists at Cornell University, including Whitney Beaman. ”How We Make Port” hailed from winemaker-heartthrob Oscar Quevedo in Portugal and, last but not least, “Winemakers-Storytellers” is part of a project from David Baker, who interviewed winemakers about their epiphany bottles.
Each finalist has won a pair tickets to a Grand Tasting or Tour event and all qualified entrants receive a six-month WineSpectator.com membership, which includes free access to all 10 wine courses at WineSpectatorSchool.com.
You’ve got nearly a year to come up with your own video entry for our 2012 contest, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. The deadline will be Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.