7 Questions for Documentary Producer Wil Fernandez

The producer and director of "Vintage 2014: The Stories Behind The Vines" talks about Santa Barbara wines and filming with drones.

How long did you film?
There were about 150 days of production, charting the actual fruit and winemakers basically from bud break to when it goes into the barrel.

Why did you choose Santa Barbara County vineyards and wineries? 
I just fell in love with the area and got to know the people there. Plus, the wineries and vineyards like Riverbench, Larner, Foxen and Buttonwood have the story I want to tell: They’re mostly smaller producers who have amazing talent and really believe in the region and its wine.

Why focus on small producers?
Because of the economy of scale, bottles from smaller producers are usually higher priced. So I really wanted to create an appreciation for why that is and what goes into that. Most people don’t realize at the wine store, that when they’re buying a bottle that’s $40 instead of $15, more often than not, they’re actually helping the little guy out.

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So your film sort of serves as an awareness campaign, too? 
Absolutely. I used to work in advertising and developed a basic questionnaire about wine buying habits. I noticed people who had actually visited a vineyard were almost always willing to spend more on a bottle. So, that’s actually when I got the idea for the film. I could bring the vineyard to the wine drinker no matter where they were and help smaller guys everywhere.

You serve wine during screenings, yes?
Yeah. I wanted to create a virtual vineyard visit, make it as close to the real experience as possible. So the film is shown in three sections, and in between each part, we actually pour some of the wines and have one of the winemakers tell people about it.

Like the smaller producers you profile, your budget was tiny and began with Kickstarter. How excited were you when you made your funding goal?
Oh, man, at one point I didn’t think the movie was going to happen. I had asked for $20,000. But after several weeks, there was only like $7,000. And that $7,000 came in the first week. Then literally during the last 48 hours it just spiked. We ended up with $25,000.

Did that help fund your drone that captured those gorgeous shots over the vineyard?
Ha. Yeah. I had to buy a couple of drones. I crashed so many. That’s an expensive mistake. Trust me.

Published on April 16, 2015
Topics: Q&A, Wine Trends

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