The Reality of Winemaking: Who Can Make the Best Bottle of Wine?

I loves me some wine, loves me some helping people understand more about wine, and loves me some television (and yeah, even some reality programming); but when I first heard about Best Bottle—a potential winemaking reality show—I was a bit skeptical. Aside from enjoying a glass or two of wine while watching my favorite guilty pleasure programming on the magic box, wine and reality television didn’t really seem to be the best pairing. But after spending some time chatting by phone with Executive Producer Scott Krauger of Gemini Digital Films earlier this week, I see the great potential for a reality show centered on winemaking. And Krauger seems like the right guy to make it happen.

With two decades of wine industry experience under his belt, an outgoing personality, and a can-do attitude, Krauger is committed to producing a quality series that “promotes community within and is a blessing to the wine industry.” And when he tells you that’s what he intends to do, you believe it.

Krauger came up with the idea for Best Bottle while producing the documentary Heart of the Vine a couple years back; within 48 hours, he was pitching his idea to major players in the television industry. He quickly brought an experienced television producer onboard and plunged headfirst into making Best Bottle a reality (see what I did there?).

The concept for the show put simply: ten contestants are divided into two regionally-based teams (Season One is “California vs. Oregon”); each team is mentored by an experienced winemaker; teams compete in challenges and are eliminated until only one contestant remains on each team; the two finalists compete to win a $100,000 cash prize and the opportunity to bottle a vintage under the Best Bottle label.

Getting a television show to air—like getting grapes from the vineyard into a bottle—is no easy feat. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, some readjustment, more hard work, and a little bit of luck. Krauger seems to have checked all of these boxes and is determined to give the world a quality show about the craft of winemaking with Best Bottle.

There are still a few hurdles Krauger and his team must overcome before production begins on the first season of Best Bottle: rounding out the cast, firming up the host(s) and judges, and securing distribution. The Best Bottle concept itself further complicates the production process, ’cause like a precocious ingénue, that pesky grape harvest may or may not always be as cooperative as a producer would like. Even the best winemakers can’t make wine without grapes or hold harvested grapes until the crush pad is “camera-ready.” But all that doesn’t seem to discourage Krauger.

Asserting “there are plenty of characters in the wine industry,” Krauger realizes that Best Bottle should not only be educational, but entertaining, as well. He hopes to have a well-rounded cast—from established winemakers looking to make a name for themselves to home winemakers to motivated wine drinkers—while ensuring the wine remains the star of the show. And while the search for the perfect host continues, Krauger promises several “big name” judges have already committed to the project.

So far, Krauger says he hasn’t received any negative feedback from those in the wine industry; his experience, connections, and stellar reputation have garnered him the enthusiastic support of wine people. The media side has proven a bit more challenging to navigate, but Krauger’s passion for and desire to present the wine industry in the best possible light have driven him to find the ideal partners to help move “Best Bottle” forward in the most positive way. Says Krauger, “Mance Media [Gemini Digital Films’ worldwide distribution agent for Best Bottle] has been a great partnership.”

Krauger’s enthusiasm for his project is genuine and infectious. “I really feel that this show at its core has the potential to change the world by making people turn off their televisions, make a great meal, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy time with family and friends.”

Best Bottle is currently slated to begin production during this year’s harvest.

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