Charlie Arturaola is a world-renowned sommelier with a sparkling personality and enthusiastic passion for wine. He possesses a precise and indefatigable palate, named among the top ten by the American Sommelier Association, and a driving desire to communicate the wine world. In 2012, he was named Wine Communicator of the Year by the International Wine and Spirits Competition, a prestigious award that belies a tenacious and creative communication style.
Mr. Arturaola is a sommelier, wine communicator – and actor. El Camino del Vino was released in November 2010, starring Charlie Arturaola and directed by Nicolas Carreras. This “fictional documentary” follows the path of world famous sommelier (Charlie) who loses his palate and seeks guidance in an entertaining journey that alternates between serious and funny.
Wine Pass interviewed Mr. Arturaola in between tastings and filming for his next movie, The Duel of Wine, at the Barolo Auction and throughout the Barolo region.
What was your motivation for filming your first movie, El Camino del Vino?
The filmmaker [Nicolas Carreras] told me there was a great possibility he could create a film where we show the wine countries that I love, but he said, “You will have to make a good impersonation of someone who loses their palate.” I was challenged by the idea, and 300 hours and 14 flights back and forth from Argentina later, we had made the film. I lost my job as a wine professor at Lynn University, but the movie went incredibly well. It was shown in 14 film festivals, sold in 11 markets, and translated into eight languages. It met with such success everywhere we went, from Australia to Switzerland.
The idea for the film was not mine, it was Nicolas Carrera’s. He liked the way I presented myself in real life, like an actor, and I liked the idea of showing the wine industry in a completely different way, in a way that is understandable to everyone. It is not a drama; it talks about family values, hardworking people, and a little bit of the wine industry.
How is the movie you’re currently filming, The Duel of Wine, connected to El Camino del Vino?
The Duel of Wine is the sequel to El Camino del Vino. It’s going to be much broader and larger. I just came from Rioja Alavesa, and we’ll be in France, Italy, New York, London – a mega production. In fact, the challenge with the second one is that it’s much bigger, which also gives me the possibility to act more.
We’re two weeks into filming, and we’ll be filming everything in just two months, including in Florence, Barolo, Soave, Umbria, Milan, Sardinia, Champagne, Rioja Alavesa and New York. We will also be working with Malbec and Tannat, although we won’t be filming in Uruguay or Argentina this time.
In the first movie, the sommelier loses his palate; in the second, he finds it.
The film is a great thing for wineries and their territories. It’s a new way to show these terroirs because there are not that many wine movies around.
What has been your favorite part about the process of filming these wine movies?
I love showing the families behind the labels, and showing them for what they do best. And I like it because we select wine countries that have remained close to my heart in the 28 years I’ve been selling and teaching wine in my career.
What will you be filming while you’re here in Barolo?
We filmed at the Barolo Auction and the Palas Cerequio. After that we’re heading to France to work with a French master chef, then to Venice, and then to all the other wonderful places I mentioned earlier.
What is your favorite wine from Piemonte?
I love Barbera d’Asti, Nebbiolo, Barolo…I have to say, the first trip I took with my wife was to Monforte d’Alba, so I love Barolo. Now my wife [Pandora, a well-known wine broker in Florida] is part of the team of actors. She is in the Port business, so between us, we have both good ends of the business.
Who are some interesting people you have met because of this film?
Many of them are people who want to know more about the wine business behind the scenes: beginners, or people who are impressed about someone filming about different wine countries. I’ve been amazed about how many followers I’ve gained – 20,000 through social media and my own website. It’s incredible how many people want to know when the film will be released, how I’m going to film it… I receive weekly comments from people telling me how much they loved El Camino del Vino and enjoyed its warmth and how tender it is.
Through my films I want to demystify the wine industry, and to make it more comfortable for everyone to enjoy their first glass of wine.
For The Duel of Wine, we have an incredible following already and we haven’t even finished filming yet. We will finish by the end of November 2014. We hope it will be in many of the film festivals. Fans are already asking when it will be released.
The film is a great thing for wineries and their territories. It’s a new way to show these terroirs because there are not that many wine movies around. This is probably the best way to do it.
What are your goals with The Duel of Wine for the future?
What I would like to achieve is to show all my followers in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South America, Spain, Portugal, France, and England how honored I am to have received the Wine Communicator of the Year award by continuing to spread my passion for wine.
I am so happy to relate the heroes of these small wineries, where the winemakers work in the vineyards every day. So far, the movie includes 14 wine families from Montalcino to Mendoza. I am so pleased to have included small producers, and I want to share them with the whole world.
And finally, through my films I want to demystify the wine industry, and to make it more comfortable for everyone to enjoy their first glass of wine.
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