World Premiere Sonoma Int’ Film Festival
Santa Cruz Film Festival
Manhattan Film Festival
“Beck paints a true picture of the harvest, with no interest in parroting the party line that everybody’s always happy.” – Santa Cruz Weekly
“Director John Beck gets high marks for authenticity.” – The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
“‘Harvest’ quickly gets down and dirty in a tense, fast-paced depiction of winegrowers sweating out the weather and immigrant picking crews sweating among the sodden vines.” – Wines and Vines magazine
“The harvesting of California wine grapes comes under scrutiny in John Beck’s informative documentary.” – Video Librarian
Following five family wineries and an all-female picking crew from Mexico, HARVEST explores timeless social issues of class, immigration, and man’s eternal struggle against Mother Nature — all at play in the vineyards during the most chaotic time of year. From illegal border crossings to untimely rains that destroy over 50 percent of the crop, this painfully honest feature-length documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the annual grape harvest ritual that has been going on since man first discovered wine.
There is no swirling, no sniffing, no sipping or quaffing. This is all about back-breaking manual labor and night picks at 2 a.m. with only tiny headlamps.
Over the course of three months during Harvest 2011, the film follows five family wineries – Robledo, Rafanelli, Foppiano, Harvest Moon and Robert Hunter, along with an amateur home winemaker and an extremely rare all-female picking crew – made up of women from Michoacan and Oaxaca, Mexico.
The wineries and pickers battle untimely rainstorms and widespread grape rot – what everyone in the film will later agree is the worst harvest in their lifetimes. This is the story of the Harvest; it is the story of the wine you drink.
Bay Area filmmaker and journalist, John Beck splits his time between directing and producing documentaries, shooting promotional video and writing freelance journalism.
For the past 15 years, he has worked as a journalist in Sonoma County where “Harvest” is set among the vineyards. It was while on assignment to capture footage of a night harvest at Foppiano Vineyards in 2010 that he stumbled upon the behind-the-scenes drama and sacrifice that go into every bottle of wine. That’s when he decided to follow all walks of life – rich, poor, winemaker, grape picker – through next year’s harvest of 2011. It would turn out to be the worst harvest in Sonoma County in at least 50 years.
His previous films, the feature-length “Worst in Show” and shorts “Stringers” and “Drag King,” have won numerous film festival awards. His print stories have won national awards from the Society for Features Journalism and the Association of Sunday and Features Editors.
Beck was born in Nashville, Tennessee and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.