This highly anticipated film chronicles a group of people who take their unexplained passion for wine to another level. In the spirit of similar documentaries like SOMM and Blood Into Wine, AWS tries to indirectly explain this unique obsession of a handful of wine lovers who abandon their scripted lives and put everything on the line to follow their dream.
Jimi Brooks, who was an ambitious young winegrower, is the focal character through most of the story. Having tragically passed away at age 38, he left his 8-year-old son and fields full of fruit ready for harvest. A group of several local wine producers came together to harvest and vinify Jimi’s grapes out of support and respect for their lost colleague. This embodies a refreshing example of the American spirit, and the power of hard work, passion and a dream.
Wine lovers like to talk about having an epiphany. That first wine that really moved you. The complexity & changing character of the wine. The realization that there is no other beverage like this on the face of the planet. And the idea that this experience emboldens some so much, as to kick their careers and steady, predictable lives to the curb in order to pursue this passion is awesome to me. (In case you’re wondering, my epiphany was a 2010 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel).
I felt a kindred spirit with Alan Baker, who at age 41, abdicated his seventeen year career in radio and moved to California to pursue his dream. He documented his experience in the Cellar Rat, his blog & podcast. He used his voice to to try to fit in somewhere, as his move was completely off the cuff and turned his life upside down. Today he runs Cartograph Wines in Healdsburg with Serena Lourie.
Mike Officer also has a story that resonated with me. He realized at an early age that sitting in a cubicle writing web code was the recipe for a slow death. He started making wine at home and that endeavor blossomed into Carlisle Winery. For myself, as a web coder in a previous life, that hit home in a big way.
These are just a few stories that are featured in this inspiring piece which screamed words of encouragement at me. The overall gist of the film is to follow your passion and do what moves you.
From a personal standpoint, I completely get it. Describing it is another story. Yes, I have the bug. I’m in awe of those who produce the magical elixir. Practically every winemaker that I’ve ever met floors me with their brilliance, creativity and passion for the craft.
And I admit that I felt a deep stirring within myself while viewing American Wine Story. These feelings made it extremely entertaining, yet somewhat uncomfortable to watch. Yes, I have a dream.
As Morgan Freeman quoted in The Shawshank Redemption:
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Strong words. Stay tuned, my story isn’t over.
American Wine Story – Available for purchase 10/14/2014