International Wine Film Festival Will Be All “Under the Stars”

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Second annual event to be staged in Santa Barbara County vineyards in June

The second International Wine Film Festival is all set to be a delectable “under the stars” experience.

Organizers have announced the 2017 dates and format of the annual event, which uniquely pairs the best in wine-themed film with tastings of fine wines from around the world. This year the festival will take place in premier Santa Barbara county vineyards from June 22-30. All screenings will be in the open air following the enthusiastic response to last year’s events.

Wil Fernandez, founder and director of the festival, explained, “Our inaugural event series was very well attended. One thing we learned was that the most popular screenings and tastings were those staged under the stars in vineyard settings. So we decided to move the festival from late February to late June so the evenings will be warmer and there will be fruit on the vines.”

Fernandez has put out a call for filmmakers to submit entries. “From what I’ve heard through the grapevine we can expect even greater creativity and quality than last year.”

Film makers can submit entries through April 30 at Categories include Best Wine Movie (feature film), Best Winery Produced Video, Best Wine Review Short and Best Wine Region Video. Selected films will be showcased at the June festival events and winning films will be shown at other wine and film pairing events throughout the United States.

The winners in 2016 included Martinelli Winery for Best Winery Produced Video; Jason Stubblefield/CorkEnvy for Best Wine Review Video and SOMM: Into the Bottle—Best Wine Movie. Notable event hosts and award recipients included John Jordan from Jordan Winery, Regina Martinelli from Martinelli Winery, Fred Dame from the Court of Master Sommeliers and Brian McClintic, star of the SOMM films. Other film makers and wine producers came from three continents—Dierberg Star Lane, Carr, Larner and Grassini from North America, Billecart-Salmon Champagne from Europe and Yalumba and Tyrrells Wines from Australia.

The event received extensive media coverage, including Food and Wine magazine, which wrote,“If there’s any movie genre that begs for a real-world tie-in, it’s wine-themed films. Who wants to watch people swirling glasses of deliciousness and not get to taste any of it?”

Fernandez says that while there are other traditional film festivals in wine country locations, the Wine Film Festival is the first that solely focuses on films that use wine as a theme and brings audiences into the vineyard to watch them; it’s the perfect pairing.

The blending of wine and film stems from Fernandez’s passion for both. A former advertising agency executive, he currently works as a brand consultant for boutique wine and specialty food brands.

Fernandez came up with the idea for the wine film festival after the success of “Vintage 2014: The Stories Behind The Vines,” the series of short films he produced and directed that are screened along with tasting intermissions. The crowdfunded project, which enabled him to bring the vineyards of Santa Barbara County to a national audience, won multiple awards including Best New Media at the New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles and was featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

When he decided to submit the project to film festivals Fernandez was frustrated to discover that there weren’t any festivals that brought together audiences of wine lovers to celebrate wine films—so he decided to create one, set among Santa Barbara's idyllic vineyards.

Venues already lined up for 2017 include Presqu'île Winery and Riverbench Vineyard.

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The International Wine Film Festival is the first event of its kind - presenting video content entirely focused on wine and paired with tastings of fine international wines along with screenings in idyllic vineyard settings. Created and directed by wine and movie aficionado Wil Fernandez the second annual festival will be held in Santa Barbara, California June 22 – 30.

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Wil Fernandez
since: 12/2015
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