Noted actor Emilio Estevez’s latest feature film, The Way, is a journey of self discovery centered around Spain’s ancient pilgrimage path, the Camino de Santiago. Estevez wrote, directed and stars in the movie alongside his father, Martin Sheen. Wine Enthusiast sat down with Estevez and his fiancée, winemaker Sonja Magdevski, over a glass of their Casa Dumetz Viognier to talk about The Way and the couple’s boutique winery in southern California.
WINE ENTHUSIAST: Tell us about The Way.
EMILIO ESTEVEZ: The Way is really a story about life, navigating this world and the things that are ultimately important. It is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, with Martin [Sheen] as the main character. He meets these disparate, broken characters, and they set off to find the “wizard” on the Way of Saint James.
WE: Did you have any great wine experiences in Spain?
EE: We shot part of The Way in Rioja, in the town of Haro, in the Cune vineyards; we were really digging that wine. Their white called Monopole is mind-boggling. We were also in Briones during harvest, and people were crushing grapes and making wine in their garages and invited us in for a taste. By the end of the day I was pretty happy. We also went to the museum at Dinastia Vivanco, and my tongue was hanging out. That place is amazing—and so are their wines.
WE: How do you handle working together on the wines of Casa Dumetz?
SONJA MAGDEVSKI: The person I want to gain approval from the most is Emilio. When he’s tasting my wine, I look at Emilio’s face. I know right away if we’ve done it right.
WE: Sonja, where did you receive your training as a winemaker?
SM: I trained in the backyard! We planted the vineyard in 2004 and I knew very little. Part of me had always fantasized about growing grapes, but when it really happened, I started seeking my own answers, reading books and seeking out mentors. In winemaking, the answer to every question is, “It depends.”
WE: Emilio, how did you make the transition from the film industry to planting a vineyard?
EE: When we were in Galicia, where my grandfather is from, every backyard had grapevines, a vegetable patch and a few chickens. I did not grow up farming, but here I am now, planting grapes and pruning vines. I believe it has to do with genetics, why we are drawn to a certain thing for no apparent reason.
WE: Can you compare making wine to making a film?
SM: Having a small winery—it’s really like making an indie film. You have to improvise every day to make it work. But most importantly, be excited and love what you’re doing!
WE: Did you bring back any lessons on life from Spain?
EE: Yes. Sitting down to a meal with a Spanish family, you realize that the Slow Food movement has never left Spain. People make their own wine and grow their own food, or else they know who did, and every meal is a celebration of life.
WE: What do you drink at home?
SM: I love sparkling and I love rosé. But right now—because we are making our first 100% Grenache—we have been drinking a lot of Spanish Grenache.