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Wine films at Cornucopia

The VINOS will become a permanent part of the fest


It turns out that B.C. wines are sassy, suggestive and a little racy.

"I'm pretty much the youngest of the house wines. This is just what I've heard from people, but my tannins are actually quite smooth and elegant," says Burrowing Owl, who is actually a blonde actress decked out in a fur coat and black fascinator to represent the Oliver, B.C., winery.

Cut to Mission Hill. "I heard that Burrowing Owl got her tannins done," she says, grabbing suggestively at her chest.

"Sour old grape," Burrowing Owl shoots back.

If it sounds like a scrappy exchange between the women on the ludicrous "Real Housewives" franchise that's because it is — sort of. The video clip titled The Real House Wines of British Columbia imagines various wines around the province as the over-the-top characters in the series.

Clocking in at just over two minutes, it won top place this summer at the VINOS, a wine film festival that has taken place in Oosyoos since 2009. Next year, though, the festival will move to Whistler where it will become a permanent part of Cornucopia. This year, organizers will host a "Best of" screening of the top 18 out of 350 submissions from the last three years.

"The problem was being in Oosyoos, it's a five-and-a-half to six-hour drive from Vancouver, so a lot of these (people) couldn't get the time off to go up there and watch their film being screened and it wasn't quite the same," says Glenn Fawcett, president of Black Hills Estate Winery and founder of the festival. "What we realized from watching the Big Rock Eddies, which is the world's largest beer commercial film festival, is that when you're close to a major population where there's a big creative community, then they'll really compete to make good video content and bring their clients or friends out with them to watch it at the film festival... We wanted it to be embedded within a wine festival and Cornucopia is perfect."

The videos, created by professionals and amateurs, many of whom have no affiliation with the wine industry, straddle the line between commercial and short film. They draw attention to the B.C. wine industry — small, but strong — and tend not to focus on just one winery. They must be short and funny to win, but that's about it as far as the rules go.

In today's viral video world Fawcett has hope that one of the clips could attract massive hits, which would be good news for the entire industry. "They're humourous portrayals of life situations involving wine," he adds. "If it clicks with a really good submission, it's great international exposure for our wine region."

In a way, the videos also help frame wine in general as less of a highbrow beverage that requires a range of knowledge to enjoy.

"When people can laugh at themselves, it completely diminishes the pretention," Fawcett says. "It's the kind of thing where someone who isn't even a wine drinker would be howling with laughter at the humour that plays out. I think, without a doubt, it helps vanish the pretentiousness that often hangs on wine. It helps create a forum and an evening of entertainment where everyone can taste wine and enjoy it."

The Best of the VINOS takes place Nov. 8 from 8:45 to 11 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre.

Tickets are $30 at whistlercornucopia.com. Dress in your Hollywood finest for a red carpet event where organizers will officially announce details for the 2013 competition.

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