A scene from "Sound of Wine" one of nine finalists for Wine Spectator's best wine video contest.
Best Wine Videos - Stark Insider
A scene from “Sound of Wine” one of nine finalists for Wine Spectator’s best wine video contest.

Voting for Wine Spectator’s best wine video contest is now open. I took a quick look at the nine finalists and was floored by the outpouring of creativity, overwhelming entertainment factor. I applaud the filmmakers’ ability to wring emotion from a topic that usually falls into cliche (violin-based soundtrack with subject(s) skipping through the vineyard) or boredom (wine-making process deconstructed in super slo-mo, extended cut). I’ve been producing Stark Insider video features for almost four years now and have come to appreciate what it takes to tell a compelling story focused on the subject of wine (we’re slowly improving, but have a ways to go).

WS does a good job with this contest. There’s a distinct global flavor that gives this video collection an almost indie-film-like quality – much like you’d see at a film festival like Cinequest or Mill Valley. And speaking of quality, it’s uniformly impressive. There’s no Stark shaky cam here, or overwrought music and random spinning at wineries. Instead, we get inspired story telling, sumptuous cinematography, and high-end audio production.

Luc Plissonneau’s “Like my Father” tells the story of a small boy, and life growing up on a small family-run estate in the Bordeaux Supérior. Charming.

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“Close to the Sky” features some of the best visuals of the bunch, taking us across the stunning landscape of Mendoza in Argentina.

“A Brief History of Merlot” is a clever ode to the rise and fall (thanks to Sideways and Pinot Noir) of the varietal that just wants a little respect.

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And if you typically think of California, Italy and France when it comes to wine, “Winemaking in Thailand” may very well open your eyes.

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My favorite, and the one that gets my vote for best wine video for this year, is “Sound of Wine.” There’s a Blue Man Group vibe to this one, that sees musicians playing wine instruments. No talking; just expression. It’s unexpected, and works beautifully.

The story continues with even more wine videos.

Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear