Carla De Luca Worfolk
The remarkable journey we experienced in putting together this documentary enabled us to witness historical events, record final interviews, review private archives and share never-before displayed images, yet didn’t prepare us for the emotional impact of recognizing the passing of a generation. Immersing ourselves in the era of Prohibition and then its Repeal, we came to understand these complex times, as well as the culture we live in today, through vivid memories and personalities as their words informed our script and enlivened our images. While inevitable, we didn’t expect to be so personally moved as we worked in post-production and learned yet one more member of the “Phoenix Generation,” – eight total – had died since our interviews, or that the magical feeling from a picture-perfect afternoon amidst vineyard views, riveting conversation, and gracious Napa hospitality, would be later replaced by sadness upon news of the untimely death of Tom Shelton, former President of Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
How grateful we were, and are evermore so now, that they shared their stories. Their experiences have helped us to encompass a span of one hundred years of winemaking in America – from the decimation to rebuilding of an industry – and explain how two Constitutional Amendments - unlike any other – continue to impact commerce, laws, and health policy at our highest levels of government, while influencing the everyday lives of Americans.
Our goal was to further the understanding many Americans have as they read today’s headlines. Regular news items appear about changes in wine shipping laws, positive and negative health effects from drinking alcohol, which often seem contradictory, and the continuing globalization of the wine industry with a proliferation of choices. How can Americans better comprehend why these events are happening? By examining our country’s history, and hearing from those whose life and work have centered on these issues, many of whom have rarely granted interviews, if ever. In bringing their interviews and these issues forward, our documentary offers not only the critical historical context to foster this understanding, but the unique story of the wine industry and its legendary entrepreneurs - well into their 80s and 90s when we met - who continue to impress us with the clarity of their recollections and fortitude, each time we press “play.”
This documentary would never have been possible without the tremendous collaboration and dedication from interns to scholars, curators to librarians, across states and into wine regions, and from the numerous media professionals on both coasts. We thank them all, and most especially, the wine community for their willingness to share their own, and in turn, this American experience. We’re further delighted that even before our film enjoyed public screenings, we received prestigious juried awards for excellence in filmmaking – the Gold Kahuna Award from the Honolulu International Film Festival and the Silver Ace Award from the Las Vegas Film Festival. It’s a testament to the many people who worked on this film, but also a wonderful recognition of this important story in our history and our society today.