I went to the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2009 in Lisbon, Portugal to film material for a series of documentaries on wine as culture, history, and economics that I have been directing over the last couple of years. The EWBC interested me in terms of how social media – blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest – could market wine in what is a changing landscape for both wine and for how products can be promoted and ideas communicated.
Social media potentially provides the means for those who don’t have those resources of large companies. It is a much wider playing field with its own set of disadvantages, perhaps, but success stories were presented at the EWBC, and the trailer I have edited is for a half hour video on the talks and round table discussions and, of course, the wines at the event.
I was thinking of directing a documentary on wine and social media, but after the EWBC, I decided to focus on Ryan and Gabriella Opaz, an American couple living near Barcelona, of catavino.net fame, one of the world’s top wine blogging sites, which would give me a narrative structure on how they prepare the next EWBC in Vienna and promote Quevedo, a winery on the Duoro in Portugal with whom they work.
When I lived in London, I remembered looking at the bottles of wine and thinking of all the vine growers working in the heat and in the cold and in fear of a hail storm or early frost, and how that was invisible to most of those who purchased a bottle. Making it visible was the initial spark for making La Bobal which in turn opened up many more stories in the extremely complex world of wine that mixes agriculture, business, culture, politics, art, history, and egos large and small.
Frost and hail may be part of the story, but another part is about people like catavino.net and those at the EWBC who are making it possible for some small and medium size wineries to sell their wine and sustain their businesses. I’m looking forward to making that narrative visible, and although I have less to fear about the weather than the vine growers, I never quite know what is going to happen either, or where a project is going to take me.