It’s the opening day of the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival and there are a couple of “not-to-be-missed” films for wine-lovers. They include “Harvest” and “Portrait of a Winemaker: John Williams of Frog’s Leap.”

Harvest is not a film about the nuance of wine, but rather one that takes people vicariously through the frenetic picking season where Mother Nature calls the shots. It follows five wine families — Foppiano, Robledo, Rafanelli, Harvest Moon and Robert Hunter – shedding light on their unique challenges. It also tucks into its footage an amateur home winemaker, and a rare all-female picking crew from Mexico.

One of the most dramatic aspects of the film is the 2 a.m. picking it captures, bringing to light both the angst and excitement of the sleepless season. Director John Beck gets high marks for authenticity.

A more technical pick is “Portrait of a Winemaker: John Williams of Frog’s Leap.” It delves into the winemaker’s dry farming method which increases soil fertility and capacity for water retention, as well as producing tastier wines. This man takes on one of the world’s major challenges – water scarcity — and offers his economically viable option.

Both films will give you a new appreciation for that vino in your glass. Tickets for both can be purchased online at or at the Sonoma Valley Box Office at Sonoma Community Center, 276 East Napa Street, (707) 938-4626.