In many ways food—its production, preparation and consumption—is the hottest art form today. Chefs are like celebrity auteurs, revered for their passion and dedication. We even watch reality television shows about the drama of commercial restaurant kitchens.
The newest documentary by Daniel Addelson puts another one of these artists in the spotlight. Addelson’s new film Storm follows vintner Ernst Storm, a native of South Africa who makes wine in the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, through a fall grape harvest. The film is as earthy, bright and moody as the beautiful land where it is set. Storm tromps around his land in shorts and boots and a hat operating fork lifts and hoisting pitchforks full of grapes into huge tubs. We also see him in the lab, tracking the chemical transactions taking place in his current batch.
The movie doesn’t shy away from the industrial side of winemaking, all the hoses and vats and stainless steel casks. But Storm’s voiceover reminds us that behind the heavy lifting is the dream of coaxing something pleasurable out of nature’s bounty.
Storm will premiere at the Sonoma Film Festival in April. Clocking in just over eight minutes, Storm conveys the hard work of making wine, the solitude and the fun. Most of all the film conveys the craft’s artistry. The sensual stuff—the smells and colors and flavors—are what drive Storm’s affection for process. He is discerning and attentive. We see him climbing to the top barrel in a high pyramid, with a glass and a fancy turkey baster in hand. Removing the big cork, Storm sucks out a bit and swishes it around in his glass, then tasting it to see how things are going. Each variety must be cared for, he says.
As a filmmaker Addelson isn’t making a commercial for Storm Wines. He’s interested in the ingredients that make for a creative person—the perseverance, passion and attention to detail necessary to follow an idea through.
He will pick up this thread again in his next film, which looks at the benefits of teaching character to children in school.
Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at katerixwriter.com.