Blame it on Ravenswood. With their irresistible Zinfandel, Cab and Chardonnay flowing freely, the audience was well primed for ‘Corked’, one of the 75 films featured at this week’s 11th Annual Sonoma Valley Film Fest. Created by local winemaking millennial/GenXers Russ Clendenen and Paul Hawley, Corked leaves no stone unturned in a hilarious spoof on the wine industry. While Sideways took aim at the wine tourist, this little gem nails the insider’s perspective.
Characters include 1) a fussy, pretentious young winery GM (perfectly played by Clendenen) who places a premium on image, wishing only to share the wines with the ‘right’ people; 2) a classic Sonoma winemaker who does every little thing himself, causing his wife to flee every harvest; 3) the high-energy, clueless son of a Texas billionaire who has just purchased a heritage winery, giving the son one last chance to prove his worth; 4) a beer-guzzling vineyard manager who blares jaguar calls through a state-of-the-art sound system in the vineyard to keep the birds and rabbits at bay; 5) the young marketing duo of Scott and Gary who, though they’ve never been to the wine country, have no problem buying bulk wine and creating labels targeting ‘untapped’ demographics; and 6) Richard Parsons, the untouchable all-important wine critic.
Having been in the wine industry for a decade, I wasn’t sure if all the jokes made sense to those from ‘the outside’, but judging by the roars of the crowd I’d say they translated well enough. Though the film was about 20 minutes too long, the help from Ravenswood’s great wines made the whole experience a wonderful and wild ride.