Monday, December 31, 2018

What Readers Wanted to Know About: 2018's Most Popular Posts

This blog took a giant leap forward in 2018!

Overall traffic increased a lot though the data is a bit imprecise. (Blogger's analytics doesn't let you specify a date range to measure, unlike the more powerful Google Analytics). But it's clear 2018 was the most popular year by far.

Thank you, readers!



That Mancozeb Story

The peak traffic in August was a record breaking 17,000 plus page views for that month alone (although I have never written anything for the sake of increasing page views).

The August spike was for several posts I wrote here questioning the lack of enforcement in Sonoma's and others' sustainability programs that got picked up by Wine Industry Insight and WineBusiness.com headlines' pages.

A prominent certified sustainable vineyard owner was using Mancozeb, a dangerous chemical not permitted under Fish Friendly Farming certification, the sustainability program he was certified under. (Therefore he was not in compliance with the requirements for Sonoma's Certified Sonoma Sustainable program).

That sparked a controversy, a response from the Sonoma Certified Sustainable program spokesperson and changes in the vineyard company's behavior. And the story was the inspiration for the Hosemaster of Wine, who wrote a blog post on being sorta sustainable that reached an international audience.

The grower has now stopped using Mancozeb, so I have removed the post about this for now.

My hope is that other growers will think twice before using chemicals that are among the more toxic options.

Unfortunately, the grower's grapes from the Mancozeb period (and his family winery) continue to be sold as Sonoma County Sustainable; no censure has taken place.

This affects not only the vineyard owning family's wines, but all the wineries that buy those grapes.

Since the family has about 1,000 acres of grape vines and more than 50 wineries purchase grapes from them, the misrepresentation affects hundreds of wines that may display the Sonoma County Sustainable labels.

HOT TOPICS 

• Pesticides 
Roundup wins in court, glyphosate test results for wine published, pesticides' tastes detectable in French wine study
This blog is the only place I know of that provides coverage of pesticides and wine, so perhaps it's not surprising that this topic alone was the biggest share of page views. 

It was also a very big year for stories about glyphosate in particular, and I was privileged to get a front row seat on some of the scientific proceedings related to these cases (which I wrote about in an article published on Civil Eats). 

A big thank you to the world class scientists who testified for their research and for their voices.

• Wine Culture
The movie Somm, the new book The Sommelier's Atlas of Taste
Does organics need to get a bigger voice in projects like this? Yes. 

What should happen next? 

In my dreams, Somm 4 would replicate the French tasting research on the taste of pesticides in wine. Wouldn't that be fun? 

And 60 Minutes would do an exposé on the use of pesticides in vineyards, just like their French equivalent - Cash Investigations - has. 

• Biodynamics
Should Jancis Robinson bone up on BD? Where to learn more (conference schedule)
Demystifying the basics of required farming practices and the economics of Biodynamic wine grape growing should be high on everyone's to do list. It's not voodoo; it's your great grandparents' farming.

• Green Wine  
Consumer insights from a pro, and the top organic growers in Sonoma
Younger consumers want greener wines, preferring organic and regenerative practices to "sustainable."

TOP TEN POSTS BY THE NUMBERS

Here were the hottest posts and topics of the year (with page view counts in bold).

PESTICIDES
1. A New Type of Wine Score - Glyphosate Levels | 3,439

Could consumers care about glyphosate in wine? Yes they could. The most popular blog post of the year was on this subject.

Moms Across America's second round of wine testing (in 2018; the first was in 2016) found 150X differences between conventionally grown wine and an organically grown brand and soon all of their FB audience (and its extended reach) knew.

(Postscript: When I wrote the blog post about the Moms' testing findings, the Wine Institute had bought an ad for the search results people might use to find out about the ad which I mentioned in the blog post. After that post was published, the Wine Institute removed its ad buy for the terms "Moms Across America glyphosate.").

Now the Moms group is actively promoting the first wine certified "Glyphosate Free" (although the cap is only 10 ppb, not 0, which could allow many organically grown wines to qualify if this labeling becomes popular with consumers).

PESTICIDES
2.  Monsanto Roundup Trial - Closing Arguments - Slides + Photos | 2,830

Trial documents from the case of DeWayne Lee Johnson versus Monsanto showed vividly how exposure to glyphosate led to a fatal diagnosis of non Hodgkin lymphoma. By year's end, stock in Monsanto's new parent company, Bayer, was worth half as much as it was a year ago.

Public opinion about the herbicide's safety also shifted following the jury's decision to impose fines of $289 million in damages against Monsanto. Though the fines were reduced, the stock price has not bounced back, amounting to a loss of billions.

More than 8,000 additional cases are pending in U.S. courts.

PESTICIDES
3. French Wine Study Finds Wine Lovers Can Taste Pesticides in Wine | 1,498

Is something missing in WSET and MW exams? French pesticide researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini and chef Jerome Douzelet found that top tasters could write tasting notes describing the flavors of various commonly used wine grape pesticides, a topic not frequently studied but with potentially serious implications.

GREEN WINE
4. An Organic Business Model: Napa's Shining Star - Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall's Growing Organic Enterprise | 1,107 

When the Halls bought the iconic Napa white wine (and celebrated Chardonnay maker) producer Stony Hill, it was the latest step in their path to building a multigenerational, organic-as-a-family-value winery and vertically integrated company.

WINE CULTURE
5. Somm 3: Yes You Must See This Movie | 835

Published less than a month ago, this story generated 800+ views. Somm 3 is fun - and elitist. And you should see it.

BIODYNAMICS
6. Jancis Robinson Sings Biodynamic Wine's Praises - But Is More Education Needed? | 835

After seeing yet another bonafide wine writer at the top of her game write a piece about Biodynamic wine and painting it with a little bit of the Harry Potter/Hogwarts brush, I decided enough was enough. It's time for all wine professionals to be better grounded in their education about Biodynamic's agronomic basis and why it matters - especially in the time of climate change. Time to put away the old tropes.

BIODYNAMICS
7. Biodynamic Association's 2018 Conference in Portland Will Feature Biodynamic Vintners and Wines | 621

Here was one place to learn more (in October) and get the information people need to write intelligently about Biodynamic wineries.

Of course, the best place was in May at the International Biodynamic Wine Conference in SF. See that web site for a list of speakers, topics and the Grand Tasting program guide with a list of wines and wineries. It's a great online resource.

WINE CULTURE
8. Raj Parr and Jordan Mackay's New Wine Book: The Classic European Wines You - and Millenials Raised on Natural Wines - Need to Know | 598

When the meme / pendulum swings too far toward the sulfite debate (i.e. natural wines), a top somm and food writer champion the great estates of Europe and traditional fine wines, which come from terroir driven vignerons.

GREEN WINE
9. Green Wine Insights: An Interview with Eco Wine Survey Author and Sonoma State Wine Business Professor Liz Thach, MW | 573 

A wine business professor's students poll finds preferences for organic and Biodynamic wines rate higher than for sustainable wines. And respondents say they're willing to pay more for these wines.

GREEN WINE
10. Top 10 Organic Vineyards by Size - Sonoma | 500

Few people know who's who in organic wine grape growing in Sonoma (or Napa) so I compiled this basic list. (I published a Napa list in 2017.)

Wishing you a happy and healthy wine loving year in 2019!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Bonterra and Biodynamics Star in New Amazon Prime Wine Series


Biodynamics gets a starring role in the new wine series launching Jan. 4 on Amazon Prime.

Episode 3 of the new series It Starts with Wine showcases the Biodynamic wine program at Bonterra in Hopland. It couples the story of Joseph Brinkley, vineyard manager at Bonterra, with a local burger shop chef, adding in the natural beauty of northern California in Mendocino and Sonoma. Food, wine and travel - all together.

See the trailer here.

While the series is aimed at a general audience, it's no old-white-men-on-wine series like most wine shows. This one's for you, Millenials! 

As Wine Enthusiast knows (and they created the series), the wine industry needs to convine Millenials to buy wine. The wine industry needs to hang on to as much market share as it can, in the face of more competition from wine and spirits drinkers in the Millenial generation.

Wine Enthusiast created the three episode series - which includes Uruguay, Argentina and California (organic) - as an episodic program; more episodes to come. 

The series couples wine people (vineyard guys, winemakers, owners) with low key home chefs (and semi-pros) enjoying wine with meals, surfing, riding horses, having cookouts, playing guitars and cooking with family and friends - lifestyle marketing at its finest. Characters, more than wine, figure prominently.

In the California Organic episode, expert comments from U.C. Farm Advisor (and organic and Biodynamic expert) Glenn McGourty, Wine Enthusiast editor Jim Gordon and Fetzer winemaker Bob Blue (founding winemaker of Bonterra) add enjoyable heft to the California show.

Little of the program focuses on the taste of wine, but focuses rather on selling wine as part of a groovy family lifestyle.


Pros: 

• The down home film stands in contrast to the rarified, complicated world of wine in the Somm films - selling wine as part of everyday enjoyment in life
• It features real wine experts including Glenn McGourty Jim Gordon, and Bob Blue
• It showcases the natural beauty of Sonoma and Mendocino (welcome to see after the fires have dented wine tourism in the North Coast)
• Nice drone shots!
• Reminds one of the way Bonterra originally sold organically grown wine - with organic food - at its early days Food and Wine center in Hopland (long gone), where the greats like Julia Child came to cook

Cons: 

• It focuses on a lot of lifestyle shots as opposed to flavors of wine or really any information about wine
• Bonterra's Biodynamic wine program is the film's focus (290 acres of vineyards and 2,000 cases of Demeter certified Made with Biodynamic Grapes wine), but the wine brand's main production is 498,000 cases of Bonterra wines that are actually organically grown and are Biodynamic. There's really no explanation of organics.
• The film doesn't show the animal integration or other holistic elements that are at the heart of the Biodynamic concept.

All in all, it's a pleasure to see an Amazon Prime series bring the word "Biodynamic" and "organic" in wine in a positive light.

The Press Release


Wine Enthusiast Media is pleased to announce the launch of It Starts With Wine, an original series premiering on Amazon Prime Video January 4th, 2019.

The episodic series travels the globe and follows the world's best winemakers, growers, producers and personalities, along with prominent chefs and celebrities, to offer viewers an inside look at the people, locations, cuisines and cultures that surround the wine lifestyle and the world's finest wines and spirits.

The first episode in the groundbreaking cinematic series features famed chef and restaurateur Francis Mallmann, with acclaimed "flying winemaker" Alberto Antonini, set against the beautiful backdrop of Uruguay and one of the country's premier wineries, Bodega Garzon.

"We felt that the best way to convey these stories was in episodic fashion," says Jay Spaleta, Executive Producer and Wine Enthusiast SVP. "Wine Enthusiast has long been an innovator in wine information, reviews and content, this is the next bold step in that content leadership."
"It Starts With Wine is a docuseries that tells a personal story and shares deep insights in a way that is very approachable, engaging and revealing," continues Spaleta.

Wine Enthusiast Media will be simultaneously releasing episodes I, II and III for viewers binge-watching pleasure. The series will be available on Amazon Prime Video in North America and Vimeo's On Demand premium video service globally.

Episode II of It Starts With Wine follows doctor / vintner Laura Catena and musician / chef Deborah De Corral on a visit to Bodega Catena Zapata, the renowned Argentine Winery. Founded in 1902, Catena is known for bringing traditional European winemaking methods to South America.

Episode III travels to California to look at biodynamic viticulture with Joseph Brinkley, vineyard director at Bonterra Organic Vineyards and explores the simplicity of elemental food with chef Garrett Sathre.

About Wine Enthusiast:

Wine Enthusiast Media creates innovative long and short-format content in the wine, spirits, travel and lifestyle categories. Wine Enthusiast Media is the production division of Wine Enthusiast Companies founded in 1979, and publisher of Wine Enthusiast magazine.

For more info visit: https://itstartswithwine.com

For media inquiries, image, footage and interview requests:
John Van Dekker
914-610-6074
jvandekker@enormouscreative.com

SOURCE Wine Enthusiast Media


Bottom Line: The Biggest Little Farm, a film that had audiences at Mill Valley Film Festival weeping over the beauty of the whole farm approach, is the real deal film about Biodynamics, even though it doesn't show the preps, etc. The documentary has spring 2019 release date and even though it's not about wine, it's the best introduction to the whole farm approach one could get.


Perhaps someone will have the brilliant idea of showcasing the two films together - Double feature, anyone?

Friday, December 14, 2018

EcoFarm Conference Set for January 23-26 - "Resilience is Fertile"


More than 70 workshops are scheduled for the annual EcoFarm conference for current and aspiring organic farmers, which includes viticulture and soil topics.

Sessions that include speakers from the wine industry or related fields include:

Innovations in Biological Control

Pam Marrone at Organic Grower Summit 
Biopesticide entrepreneur Pam Marrone of Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Michael Gilbert from Semios will provide an overview of emerging solutions in biopesticide and biostimulant inputs. Marrone introduced Regalia, a widely used biofungicide used against powdery mildew.

• Cover Cropping for Beneficial Insects


Houston Wilson
U.C. postdoc researcher Houston Wilson worked on the groundbreaking project to improve biological control of the Virginia Creeper leafhopper, which affected organic vineyards in the North Coast. (Mendocino and Lake County's U.C. Farm Advisor Glenn McGourty was also a leader in this project.)

Wilson and Jessa Kay Cruz will be speaking about cover crops and beneficials.

• Grazing Sheep in Perennial Crop Systems (including vineyards)


Image result for nathan stuart tablas creek
Nathan Stuart
Kelly Mullville of Paicines Ranch and Nathan Stuart of Tablas Creek Vineyards in Paso Robles will be will be featured in this session on how to succeed in integrating sheep year-round on winery properties.

• Wise Words from Well-Seasoned Farmers

Image result for lou preston

Winery owner Lou Preston of Preston Farm & Winery in Healdsburg (Sonoma County) will lead a session with Mimi Luebbermann, sheep farmer. Preston has an integrated and biodiverse farm and winery, growing wine grapes (and making wine), sheep, pigs, chickens, and more than 200 crops.

See the full schedule here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Organic AND Sustainable: Zero Waste Pioneer Fetzer (and Bonterra) Win California's Highest Green Award


The California EPA and the California Governor Jerry Brown have awarded Fetzer Vineyards with the state's highest environmental honor, a Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award ("GEELA"), presented at a Sacramento awards ceremony December 5th.

Fetzer is the parent company of the country's most popular organically grown wine brand, Bonterra.

According to the California EPA:
 "In 2017, Fetzer Vineyards diverted more than 3,000 tons of waste from landfill or incineration to achieve a 98.34 percent diversion rate through recycling, reusing and composting used materials. 
This was accomplished through waste programs that streamlined the collection of recyclable items during production.
Fetzer Vineyards also composts all pomace left over from the winemaking process and later reintroduces these materials into their vineyards as nutrient-rich compost. 
Fetzer Vineyards is recognized for their ability to reduce material consumption, mitigate negative impacts of solid waste, and create economic benefits for their business and the broader economy."
According to Fetzer's press release, "Fetzer Vineyards began tracking and reporting waste in 1990 and became the world's first winery to achieve TRUE Zero Waste certification in 2014, with a diversion rate of over 98%. "

This is the third time Fetzer Vineyards has won a GEELA awards. (The other years were 2003 and 2008.)

"We are very pleased to receive this recognition," said Cindy DeVries, chief operating officer for Fetzer Vineyards, "as it underscores the importance of a focus on waste reduction as critical to our efforts to pursue climate-smart practices in our business."

Bio Filtro BIDA system at Fetzer in Hopland, California

One component of Fetzer's recycling is its Bio Filtro BIDA water recycling system which uses worm composting to clean water to meet EPA standards. Fetzer was the first U.S. winery to adopt this technology installing it in 2016 The system processes 15 million gallons of water. The process also produces a byproduct: 573 cubic meters (20,000+ cubic feet) of worm castings, a valuable vineyard nutrient.

So far, one other organic vintner, Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley, has also ordered a BioFiltro system. The largest ag sector in California using BioFiltro is the dairy industry.




Said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. "From fighting climate change to reducing waste, [Fetzer's] successful efforts are proving that environmentally sustainable practices can grow and support a healthy economy."

The effects of climate change are hitting many wineries around the world, including in Mendocino which is home to Bonterra and Fetzer's winery in Hopland. The area is close to the epicenter of the Redwood Complex Fire, which began in Potter and Redwood Valleys northeast of Ukiah and decimated the nearby Frey Vineyard. It also killed 9 local residents. 

The annual Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award is administered on behalf of the Governor's Office by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California State Transportation Agency, the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the California Government Operations Agency, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Fetzer is also the first winery in the world to be TRUE certified, according to Stephanie Barger, director of market transformation and development, for TRUE at the U.S. Green Building Council. "They have demonstrated leadership in minimizing waste output and efficiently using resources, furthering our goal of developing a zero waste economy for all," she said.

Bonterra is the largest wine brand in the organic sector, making more than 500,000 cases of organically grown wine each year. (Fetzer makes 4 million). Bonterra's wines account for 25% of organically grown wine sales in the U.S. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Amarone: The Many Splendors of Valpolicella's "Cult Wine"

Back in 1985 when Italian wine expert Nicolas Belfrage wrote his classic book Life Beyond Lambrusco: Understanding Italian Fine Wine, Valpolicella was not an esteemed wine region.

A historic region dating back centuries, the region's name means "valley (Val) of many (poly) cellars (cello)."

"Of all the wine names historically associated with quality in Italy," he wrote, " [Valpolicella] has in our time become probably the most debased." This was despite its ideal soils - limestone, basalt, and alluvial - and southerly exposures in valleys of alpine foothills. "Theoretically," Belfrage continued, "the wines of this favoured region ought to be excellent."

Belfrage was writing at the time when mass produced cheap reds from Valpolicella dominated the market after World War II - a far cry from today, where authentic and artisanal producers produce glorious wines tasted at a "Secrets of Amarone" seminar (sponsored by the region's wine association).


The educational event was led by wine expert Deborah Parker Wong, a writer and teacher who leads many educational tastings for the trade, including another Valpolicella seminar in October.

"Amarone is Valpolicella's 'cult wine'," she said - the region's most prestigious wine which is 25% of the area's production. Just as northwestern Italy has Nebbiolo and Barolo, Valpolicella's pride and glory is its Amarone. And the U.S. is, by far, Parker Wong said, the leading market for Amarone.

Amarone has traditionally been known as a "wine of meditation" - a great big red that, according to Belfrage, is one of the world's strongest unfortified wines. These were also the great "conversation wines"; "wines of breed and high civilization, whose decline from favour is an indicator of the decline of social graces," he wrote back in 1999.

In the age of cell phones at the dinner table, what's become of this grand old tradition?

Robert Parker. In the age of big, bold wines with food, Amarone has become a "food friendly" wine to pair with dinner. In fact, a pairing menu of delicious dishes was presented (from a GuildSomm member) suggesting a number of options including steak and figs, or venison with plums (a traditional pairing). Times change. The vintners of Valpolicella are not complaining.


It makes sense then that the trend among producers today is towards lower alcohol (still at 15.5-16%) fresher, lighter styles.

Amarone still tends to be an affordable "great wine," with prices of the 16 wines tasted mostly clustered around $35-50. The Biodynamic wineries were the exception with wines priced at $69 and $107 (for older vintages).

The tasting yesterday featured wines from a variety of vintages dating back to 2009. Andrea Lonardi, winemaker at Bertani, provided a longer term view of Amarone aging with this chart Parker Wong included in the presentation:


In the tasting - which featured 16 wines - the full range of Amarone was on display, from coop produced wines including grapes from outside the Classico region to Amarone's that reflected herbaceous, garrigue like influences.

ORGANIC PRODUCERS

Novaia Corte Verona - Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2013, $35

This wine comes from a site at a high elevation in the Marano with some clay soils as well as basalt and tuffa. "The clay is important as it activates the soils," Parker Wong said, whose tasting note for this wine was "chocolate covered cherries."

I've also tasted this wine at the Slow Wine tasting (which usually takes place January) along with Novaia's other wines.



ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC PRODUCERS

Corte Sant'Alda - Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2012, $107


Marinella Camerani (right) with her team
Beloved by the writers of Slow Wine Italy and many other Italian wine experts, I was surprised to read today that Corte Sant'Alda began as the hobby of its proprietor, Marinella Camerani, who took over her family's farm in 1985 and had just four vines. After meeting Nichoas Joly in 2002, the light went on and she converted to Biodynamic practices. The estate is named for her daughter, Alda.

Today she is one of the region's top tier producers and her price on this wine reflects it.

2012 was a drought year and for the first time the regional association permitted "rescue irrigation." (Irrigation is usually not permitted.) Yields were down, but quality was not. However, this wine, although from outside the Classico region, on alluvial soils in the Mezzane, was one of the standouts in the tasting. "Spicy, youthful, delicious...light and also complex," were some of the notes I took. Others got "salty caramel, cardamom, bay leaf."

An esteemed taster who sat next to me (and whose name will not be mentioned out of respect for privacy) had been mostly quiet while we tasted the wines, but this wine totally lit him up. "I'll take a case of that!" he said.

Valentina Cubi - Morar - Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2009, $69


Valentina Cubi is another leading lady among the Valpolicella vintners. Demeter certified since 2010, her wines are highly regarded; sampling a 2009 was a real treat. 

I have to say the pictures of accommodations at her estate that I found online later are dreamy and will have you fantasizing about your next trip to the Veneto.







Valentina Cubi has also exhibited at Raw Wine.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Somm 3: Yes, You Must See This Movie

I have to admit - I wasn't overly fond of Somm 1 and 2. Why make wine into a competitive sport? Why ruin a perfectly good beverage with people aspiring to know so much about so little?

Somm 1 and 2 also ignored the farming involved in making so many of the wines featured. Where was the mention that herbicides and fungicides are used in massive quantities?

It's all very well to discuss mountain vineyards and how vines struggle and what type of soil this obscure Spanish region has, but how can you then, as the same time, fail to mention the influence of the nerve gas toxins on taste (and people and water and air) and pesticides showing up in schoolchildren in Bordeaux who live next to vineyards? Such is the world of wine. I can't really fault Somm's makers for not bringing those topics into the conversation. The eyes of the industry are not looking at the farming - not to mention the manipulation in the winery - as much as they should be.

None of these darker topics is mentioned in Somm 3, but at least the foil of Carole Meredith presides over it all, taking a dim view of blind tasting. For, once again, the Somm film team has put the blind tasting form to the ultimate test - pitting major experts' opinions against one another.

One problem with Somm is the continuing, almost adolescent adoration way the filmmaker worship at the altar of the great names in the sommelier-hood. Somms also seem to prefer wines from some of their own, in the movie at least. It's a clubby, little world, filled with "certain people." It's hardly the stuff of everyday life or even the titans who have achieved financial success in the industry. (The rich guys at the top of the industry might make for a much more interesting film, if you could ever get them on camera. These are the puppetmasters who never get into the spotlight).

Another issue is that Somm plays right into the peculiarly American obsession with wine as an elitists' beverage - a pleasure reserved for people inhabiting the planet of the One Percenters. It paints a picture of wine as apart from mere mortals who like to drink it with dinner at home or even with popcorn or at a baby shower or with pizza. It promotes the world of wine from on high - an expensive beverage to be curated by masters. Hardly any producers inhabit the film. No wonder my friend who sells wine at a local Whole Foods says, "wine is just too complicated. At a certain point, some of my customers just give up and go across the street to get a bottle of vodka."

If the subject was food, we might focus on the elite chefs, for fun, but not the waiters, would we? But wine is different (is it - really?). Now somms are embracing new careers as vintners, aren't they?



The good news about the film - if you think about it - is that the experts don't agree, and in fact even some of the most famous in the world can be quite wrong in identifying a wine (or right as well, but not consistently) and that everyone does, in fact, often have a different taste preference.

The best part is seeing the heavyweights of wine on camera (and not in a wobbly YouTube video) and well lit. There's Pascaline! There's Raj Parr! There's Jancis Robinson and Fred Dame and Stephen Spurrier!

That for me was the fun part of seeing this film.

To kind of ground it all in a non-snobby, Millenial perspective, the filmmakers inject Madeleine Puckette (author of the bestselling book Wine Folly, which, though wildly popular, is more of a good graphic design project than a serious wine book) into the proceedings. Puckette good naturedly reassures us and fills in gaps in the story line. It's a useful device for pivoting around - which the film does rather quite a lot of.

Chop chop go the editors. Those looking for beautiful sequences will be disappointed. Much of the film's style is cut and paste, cut and paste in the editing. It seems like it's cut to the audio. (As a former filmmaker - and one who made about 50 films for Apple as well as several for PBS - who learned her craft from a true documentary master, I do miss real sequences.) But no matter.

It's fun, it's fast paced, and you won't know what's around the bend from moment to moment.  It's character based - a little bit - in that personalities are set up as types, and the characters are interesting (although we never really go very deeply into their worlds - think mini profiles).

This is documentary style filmmaking by and for the Instagram era, after all.

But you've got to see it - it's like the great big family movie of the little inner circle of People Who Matter in Wine. And it's a good bit of fun.

(It's now available for streaming on a number of platforms including iTunes.)