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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Global Warming and the Wine Industry

Things are changing as the temperature creeps up even a tiny bit. What does that mean for Oregon's premium Pinot Noir?

In France, the rise in temperatures may render the Champagne region too hot to produce fine champagne. The same is true for the legendary reds of Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape, where the stony white soil's ability to retain heat, once considered a virtue, may now become a curse. The world's other major wine-producing regions—California, Italy, Spain, Australia—are also at risk.

I think it's all about altitude. Moving up higher in the Coast Range of Oregon, for example, might be the solution over the long term. Or up into the Cascades.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This past weekend we screened our short film, "A Country Wedding," at the Da Vinci Film Festival in Corvallis. While this marks what I hope will be the beginning of a strong festival run, it also marks the official end of a project. The short film has reached a sort of terminus. While I'd love to pull the cast and crew together again someday to make the feature version, Killing Crows, that would be a different project.

So now it's time to think of the next film, which is our wine documentary. The idea is still coalescing. Wine is such a massive topic, that we're going to need to find a narrative thread to follow. I imagine the first year will be spent seeking out the characters we want to follow in order to tell our story.

On the technical side, I'm beginning to have thoughts about how we want to proceed. This will be a very minimalist documentary from a production standpoint. I'm assembling a small bag of gear, and my goal is to shoot the entire film only using the equipment that fits in this kit. At the same time, I want it to look amazing, as if it was filmed on high-end gear with a full crew.

I think the technology has arrived that will allow us to accomplish this feat. I'm envisioning a crew of one or two people, a tiny bag of gear, and an attitude of humility and interest that will allow us to have frank, intimate and far ranging discussions with our subjects, as well as sit in the background and shadows and capture real, authentic moments that make up the labors of people who've traded everything in their lives to work in this industry. I'm anxious to get started. I'll be detailing the full process as we move forward.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A new endeavor

Can it be a year and a half since I last posted? Amazing. Time slides past on rocketsled. There've been two harvests. Not a few bottles of vino. A few personal accomplishments, including selling my first screenplay option and making my first film with friends. An award-winning marketing campaign at work. A fifth and a sixth birthday for my assistant vigneron.

I still haven't engaged in my Oregon wine endeavor. After packing up in Missouri short of planting my commercial vineyard, I still haven't sold the property and had the resources to get involved in the wine biz.

But I've figured out a new angle. You have to narrow your focus. Hobbies like making movies and making wine tend to compete for what little free time you have as a working stiff. And I don't exactly have a 40 hour job. Not by a long shot.

So I need to economize. Collapse. My next film project is going to be a documentary about wine. We're going to launch a Kickstarter campaign this summer. We have a few ideas about the focus of the film, though it'll take a few years to truly coalesce. We know the style of filming we're going to do.

My new Canon 7D arrived today. It's an amazing little device that shoots footage that is indistinguishable from a Red Camera (unless your a technophile), and over the next three years I'm going to put it to good use. I hope to interview some famous and some not-so-famous winemakers who have followed their passions, leaving both successful careers and dead-end jobs to pursue their obsession with fermented fruit.

I'll be using this blog to document the process of making the film. It's been a long time since I uprooted my family from our country idyll in Missouri where we grew hybrid grapes and made some damn good wine in a harsh continental climate. I'm about to climb back into the vine rows, and I hope I'll have some good info to share along the way.