07.04.2023|By Daniel Mendoza|7 Minutes

In April 2019 we set out for Napa, California for our second collaboration with LOLA and Total Wine & More. The goal was to interview ten winemakers, eight of which were traveling to the Summit from out of state. The list included Sheridan Vineyards; Vintage Wine Estates; Sextant Wines; Sobon Family Estates; Northwest Wine Company; Lloyd Cellars; Samuel Robert Winery; Coelho Winery; Amici; Moone Tsai (Links to videos here). Only Amici and Moone Tsai were local so we had to rely on B Roll footage provided by the other vineyards to

We flew to Napa on April 8th and we were set to film on the 9th and 10th. All but one of the interviews were to take place at the Culinary Institute of America so we scouted the location shortly after our arrival to try to identify any challenges as well as pre select the best spots for the interviews. The location provided so many options for set ups and some incredible architectural backdrops. We headed to the hotel to prep gear and stage a quick pre production meeting before calling it a night.

The next morning we were up early to begin setting up for the first interview. This was our only indoor interview as we managed to get it in before the location opened for business. We spent about an hour on each interview, including set up and break down time, so it was critical to keep things moving. Once we moved outside we were definitely battling the sun and doing our best to set up in ways that the sun wouldn’t change drastically during the interview. Once outside we mainly switched from our kino celeb lights to diffusion, flags and bounces. We would occasionally still use a light for fill or eye light.

Our most difficult set up was definitely with Amici as it was a four person interview so it meant one of the two cameras would require movement to follow whomever was speaking. It also meant finding a way to cover each of their team members with audio as well. Our sound tech only had two wireless packs so it meant improvising and relying on a combination of wireless and boom audio. After nine interviews we were definitely ready to wrap for the day.

Day 2 was very different from the speed dating feel of Day one’s packed interview schedule. We started the day off at the incredible home of the owners of Moone Tsai. Not only was their home absolutely stunning, but it was on a mountain that overlooked Napa Valley. This interview was definitely a more intimate setting with the two owners conversing with their friend and Total Wine & More partner. After touring/scouting the spectacular home, we opted for setting the interview up on their outdoor patio with a magnificent view of the surrounding region.

By far one of the trip highlights was flying the drone though the house as there was a perfect pathway leading from the front door through the foyer and out another door that carried right over the pool and cliff to reveal Napa Valley in all of its grandeur. Once we finished at the home we traveled with one of the owners to their production facility to film some more B Roll. Everything about this brand screamed top notch and sophistication.

The second half of the day was spent at Amici where we filmed similar B Roll as well as product shots with wines from the winemakers we interviewed the day before. Our Total Wine & More partner joined the Amici team for some B Roll footage in their barrel room before we headed to a nearby property to film some additional scenes with the Amici team. Next we began shifting focus to filming bottles of wine from the various winemakers we had interviewed. The area surrounding Amici provided numerous settings for the product shots. We worked closely with the very talented photographer Tony Garcia to capture the products in serene backdrops.

On the Amici property there was a quaint and lovely house that served as a BnB for friends and guests. It just so happened that they were hosting a group of friends in from out of town so we took advantage of the strands of market lights hanging around once the sun went down. We began doing a little production design and setting up shots now that we had time and freedom to experiment creatively in the moment. We found a wine barrel and placed it in the center of the lawn then placed an assortment of Amici wines on it. We set up our kino celeb lights and waited for the background sky to be just right. It was the perfect ending to the production side of the trip. The next day we made the drive to Oakland, California to fly home.

Over the next week, the agency began sending over video scripts after going through the interviews and we began working on the edits. We mixed the B Roll footage we captured with any supplemental content provided by the winemakers to create the spots and we were all pleased with the results. This was a great appetizer project just before we headed back to Napa for a full week of filming on a much greater scale for the client as well as for our team.