Corked is a 90-minute mockumentary that pokes fun at Wine Country, the pomp and circumstance of living among the vines. The irreverent  movie will be screened at the Rome Film Fest, which begins this Thursday. Take a peek at the trailer at the website:

Ross Clendenen and Paul Hawley, the co-writers and co-directors, grew up in Dry Creek Valley, true insiders with their families in the wine industry. Clendenen’s family runs a vineyard management company, while Hawley’s father is the well-known winemaker John Hawley of Healdsburg’s Hawley Winery.

After a stint in film school, the boys were camera ready, banding together with a small crew of actors, to document – make that mock-ument – our backyard and all of its idiot-syncracies.

An early cut of Corked premiered at last year’s Sonoma Valley Film Festival and versions have been making their way through California: Healdsburg, San Rafael, San Jose and Los Angeles.

As for the plot, several fictional wineries in the Dry Creek Valley are competing for the coveted Golden Cluster award.  With a prestigious wine writer coming to town, the stakes are high.  Small independent winemakers are competing against a larger corporate winery and dirty dealings ensue.  A documentary crew sets out to discover the wine country state of mind and finds themselves caught up in the middle of this harvest time drama.

Clendenen said Corked should be out on video in the near future, as he’s currently working with distributors. What follows is a Q&A with the irascible Clendenen:

Q: You dare to mock Wine Country? What’s your point, your message, wise guy?

A: The fictional documentary crew in Corked is out to discover “the wine country state of mind.”  I think as for specific messages, some elements in the film will mean different things to different people. We do explore some real issues, though certainly in a humorous manner. Oblivious wine marketers, snobby wine writers and the relationships between winery owners and fieldworkers are all touched upon. We want to give the public a glimpse into this sometimes wacky world of wine and also point out some things about it that we find funny.

Q: What motivated you to make a mockumentary and what gave you the confidence it would be well received?

A: A mockumentary, for us, was a natural choice for several reasons. We wanted to use the resources that we had, winery locations, people and real harvest and wine production footage and make it look like a documentary. We also were fortunate to have actors that were great at improvising and we wanted to let them give the characters a real life, less scripted feel.  (There was actually a script, of course).  A mockumentary really lends itself to this type of improvisation and we shot almost fifty hours of footage doing this our editor, pared down to about 90 minutes. As for motivation, Paul and I really wanted to show the insider’s view of the wine industry and have fun with some of the types of characters we grew up watching.  Most of the characters are inspired by a combination of people, however they all come from things we have experienced working in and around the wine country. We basically wanted to poke fun, in an affectionate way, at the world we grew up in. I think this industry, more so than others, is populated by people who don’t mind laughing at themselves a bit.  For this reason, it will hopefully be well received by both the wine makers and the wine drinking public.

Q: Where exactly was it shot? What wineries? What part of Wine Country? Any big names in the cast?

A: We shot at several wineries in the area, all who were very welcoming to the project.  Hawley Winery, Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, Michel Schlumberger, Locals Tasting Room and Simi were all used as locations.  We did shoot the wine marketing duo Scott and Gary’s scenes in Los Angeles because that’s where supposed to be taking place. Aside from that, it was all shot in the Healdsburg area, the Dry Creek Valley in particular.   As for the cast, we were fortunate to have Jeffrey Weissman in the role of Jerry Hannon. Jeffrey is a local film and theater guru who has appeared in numerous movies, such as Back to the Future 2 and 3 and Pale Rider. Also Martina Finch, who appeared in 80’s classics such as Bachelor Party played Officer Pawlowitz in Corked. We also took advantage of the theatrical talent in the area; several members of Healdsburg’s Raven Players had major roles, such as Todd Norris as Dane, the vineyard manager in the film.