International Wine Film Festival Finds Home in BBQ Country

While the Santa Maria Valley is known for its perfect pairing of legendary local barbecue and homegrown wines, the region has creatively introduced an intriguing third element: wine-themed films.

Indeed, Santa Maria Valley’s “Wine Under the Stars,” a second annual international wine film festival, has wrapped this summer amid enthusiastic applause. Featuring a total of 26 wine-themed films in various genres, the festival screened at several area vineyards, allowing participants to watch films while sipping wine under the night sky.

Presqu’ile Winery served as the hub for the festival, using its picturesque property for screening such films as “Merlot,” an animated short from Italy; “Uncorked Potential,” a documentary on New York’s Finger Lakes wine region; and “Chateau au Go Go,” a stop-motion animation film that uses nothing but the graphics printed on wine corks. Each film was paired with wines carefully chosen by local winemakers. The festival also honors categories including Best Wine Movie, Best Winery Produced Video, Best Wine Review Short, and Best Wine Region Video.

Wil Fernandez, who launched the festival, says that film submissions to the festival have grown from about a dozen in the first year to more than 400 entries this year from all over the world. A third festival in 2018 is definitely in the works!

“Our first year we simply reached out to film producers that we liked and curated the lineup of about a dozen films,” he said. “This year, we used a film festival submission platform and received over 400 entries from all over the world.”