Saturday feature: Decanted

The documentary Decanted opens up with an aerial tour of Napa Valley.

Instead of Napa Valley, filmmaker Nicholas Kovacic II might easily have chosen Virginia to film his much-celebrated documentary “Decanted.”

After all, the film doesn’t so much surround the world-renowned California wineries as much as it does the intense process of making wines, which Virginia’s hundreds of winemakers can certainly relate to. Arguably, the unpredictable process of making wine could actually be more difficult here in the Old Dominion, what with our terrain and upside-down weather.

“There is so much more that goes into winemaking than just the juice in the bottle,” notes Kovacic in a phone interview. “You have to think two to three years ahead of time — growing these grapes, putting the blend together, packaging and marketing the wines, and finally selling to the consumer.”

A Napa Valley vintner nurses along what he hopes will be an award-winning blend for his winery. Courtesy photo

Just ask Texans Mike and Ken Martin, who followed prominently in Decanted leave for Napa and struggle to build the Italics winery — literally from the ground up.

“Decanted is about the trials and tribulations to [successfully] make it in the Napa Valley, “ Kovacic says. “People will walk away from this film having learned something about winemaking and also having an appreciation for wine in general. One of the things I try to get across is to show people what is behind the product — all the blood, sweat and tears that go into it.

“It’s not a glamorous thing,” he continues, “but that’s not what it’s all about for winemakers. The thing that’s driving them, what’s inside of them, is this great passion and artistry of winemaking. That is what drives these people to do something they don’t have much control over, year after year.

“One thing you will hear all of them say is, ‘This year’s going to be the best vintage.’ In other words you have to be optimistic about it.”

Theresa Wood, director of this third annual Film Festival at Little Washington, says a wine mixer with the filmmakers (featuring select wines from Scott Elliff’s DuCard winery in Etlan) will be held Saturday evening, along with a Q&A after the screening.

“The cinematography is breathtaking,” Wood says of Decanted, beginning with the opening scene that places the audience on an incredible helicopter ride above Napa Valley.

“We get a lot of people walking away from the documentary who say, ‘I feel just like went to Napa Valley,’” agrees Kovacic.

Decanted will screen at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Theatre at Little Washington, 291 Gay Street, Washington, Va. The documentary runs 78 minutes. Street parking.

Third Annual Film Festival at Little Washington tickets are now on sale at Details surrounding the festival schedule can also be found via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at
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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at