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20 Sep

Sojourn winemaker Erich Bradley parked his truck at the end of the vineyard and turned the engine off. Sitting beside him was Sojourn co-founder Craig Haserot. It was 102° F and both were sweating as the interior of the cab began to swelter. They’d come to this hopefully quiet patch of wine country to record voiceover for a short film about their journey into wine.

They laugh about it now, but that voiceover segment was the most difficult part of the shoot. “It felt like an eternity,” Bradley told Wine Spectator. “Every time a tractor drove by, we had to redo everything.” But their persistence paid off: “Journey to the Edge of the Earth” is Wine Spectator’s 2019 Video Contest winner.

Their video offers an inside look at Bradley’s journey in the Sonoma Coast appellation. This year’s contest theme, “Wine Wanderlust,” felt natural for Bradley and Haserot, who met over a tennis game and bonded over their love of wine, specifically Pinot Noir, for its ability to express terroir. They eventually founded Sojourn and their first vintage, 2004, began their challenging exploration of Sonoma Coast, where weather conditions change on a dime thanks to its proximity to the Pacific.

Bradley says he wants viewers to learn “how geographically big and complex the puzzle of the Sonoma Coast appellation is … Telling that story allows people to connect with us and understand what we’re about.” Bradley and Haserot’s Video Contest Grand Prize includes two full weekend passes to Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, where the video will be screened for more than 1,000 attendees.

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This year’s second-place winner, “From the Bayou to the Bay,” also showcased Sonoma. Lawyer and winemaker Arthur Murray of Flambeaux Wines takes viewers on a symbolic trip from the historic streets of his native New Orleans to his family-owned winery in Healdsburg, Calif., where friends and family take part in the winemaking process. As Murray passes the torch to his kids, he hopes viewers will take away the same lessons he learned from his leap of faith: “Don’t be afraid to chase a dream,” Murray told Wine Spectator. “If your heart’s in it, you make it work.”

This year’s third-place winner, “Winetastic Path Home,” takes viewers to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Local filmmaker Martina Miličević shows viewers how wine allows people to balance passion, nature and connection. She cuts and mixes vineyard and street scenes to show that wandering doesn’t require great distance.

“I made a commitment to myself that I would do my best to show as many people as I can how close they are to this enchanting wine world,” Miličević told Wine Spectator.

There are many more inspiring stories amid the 2019 Video Contest finalists. From winemakers to wine lovers of all degrees, there is a story for everyone! Watch all the winners, finalists and honorable mentions share how wine took them on the road less traveled.

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