Friday, March 18, 2011

The Winemakers

Apparently I'm behind the times, stop the presses. My DVR focuses my TV time and I often miss stumbling across interesting content. I found a re-airing of a reality series about making wine. Unfortunately, I can't find the full content available online but some is here.
The first season entertained me greatly and it clearly shows the level of interest about wine versus food. It aired on PBS making it kryptonite for huge swaths of society. Lack of wide commercial advertising kept it further below the radar. Questionable production quality and lack of instant cash prizes or fancy trips keep it relegated to lower status. The sound quality in the cave is suspect, at best; adding music to these scenes caused much rewinding of segments.
A few wineries, large corporate producers, underwrote the airing and the filming took place in Justin winery in Paso Robles. [Justin led the U.S. market with the use of QR codes on wine bottles, bravo!] Some regional wine groups assisted as well and product placement pales in comparison to Top Chef, for example, where Buitoni gets mentioned constantly. Of course, the trade off is that Buitoni funds the $200,000 prize for the winner.
In the wine world, the prize is being able to launch your own brand. In this case, approximately 2,000 cases of a new label blended and designed by the winner. Sure, it's cool to have your own wine but winning the contest isn't real work. Instead of a large infusion of cash, the lucky winner earns long hours, frequent flyer miles and the likelihood of seeing your treasured wine closed out. Or you might end up with enough house wine for a decade or more.
They did have the requisite petulant punk, "I've been buying French wine for long enough, someone should send me to France." I'm not sure what qualified the host, other than a fancy sounding name, Brian von Dedenroth; the wine industry is unable to help itself from snooty pretension.
Difficult questions for the contestants during a challenge kept me entertained. The participants mostly got them wrong and the show answered many of them on the screen, but not all, which I found frustrating.
Just checked on posts for 45 RPM, the winner's wine, on the intertron and, as surmised, the wine met with tepid reviews and was eventually in the Trader Joe's pipeline (read closed out) and available for $60/case elsewhere instead of $15+ per bottle. Wine reality shows need a new category, "Reality Check." I'll take the cash prize instead of the "magnanimous" offer of a brand launch every time...

Supposedly a new season in due out in the fall. I will update.

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