Small-time winemakers Peter Hunken and Amy Christine are the viewers’ choice
Coppola. Scorsese. The Wachowski brothers. Hunken and Christine?
Well, maybe not yet, but the two are off to a great start. Peter Hunken and Amy Christine work in the wine industry in their real lives, but their short video, called A Toast to the Little Guys, was selected by WineSpectator.com viewers as the best entry in the site’s first video contest. The two will receive passes to Wine Spectator‘s Wine Experience.
«What a great day!» said Christine, who was reached on her cell phone once voting had closed. «Peter’s knee-deep in grapes right now, and I’m actually in Sonoma visiting our cork producer.»
The winning video received the highest rating from our viewers (3.78 average out of a possible 5 stars) among the five finalists. It shows the tough work, frequent joys and occasional silly mistakes that shape the experience of producing a small wine label. Hunken, national sales manager for Stolpman Vineyards in Santa Barbara, and Christine, who sells wine for Veritas, an importer in Los Angeles (along with working as a sommelier one night a week), have been making their Hocus Pocus Syrah together since 2005.
«Our first vintage, it was like having our first child. That’s why we took so much video,» said Christine. «I wanted to make [the video] educational … [but] one of my friends, who helped me watch the footage and edit it, he wanted to put the story together more in a sweet, reality-show style. So we did the little confessionals. I had a totally different idea, but my friend had a much better idea.»
Christine said she and Hunken are looking forward to enjoying their prize, but admitted that it’ll be tough to balance that with the harvest. «I’ve been reading about it in Wine Spectator every year for probably 10 years, and would love to go. I hope we can get away from stomping grapes,» she said.
The four other finalists have all won a choice of a pair of tickets to one of the Wine Experience Grand Tastings or a Grand Tour event. Which means they could cross paths. But if all the amateur filmmakers meet, expect more camaraderie than competitiveness.
«I got a really amazing e-mail from Nancy [Bentley], who did the Romancing the Vineyard video, and she was so great and wished me the best of luck,» said Christine. «You really just had a great group of people in those videos. Everybody was fantastic.»
The duo behind Hocus Pocus hopes to someday make this their full-time job, but for now, they are commuting between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. And in case you were wondering, as we were, just who the boss of Hocus Pocus is, Christine is quick to admit that it’s not her. «Peter’s definitely in charge,» she said. «I’m just learning my way around, but Peter’s been making wine for eight years now, so he’s head winemaker and I would be the cellar rat.»
For now, however, they’re on equal footing as the winners.