Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

SLO Film Fest screening award-winning documentary featuring local winemakers

The Amphora Project - Past Forward featuring author of “The Wine Bible” Karen MacNeal.
Photo courtesy of
The Amphora Project - Past Forward featuring author of “The Wine Bible” Karen MacNeal.

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is screening an award-winning documentary featuring San Luis Obispo County winemakers.

The Amphora Project - Past Forward tells the story of how modern winemakers, including many in SLO County, are using a winemaking technique that dates back over 8,000 years.

The documentary is being screened tomorrow in San Luis Obispo and next Thursday in Paso Robles.

It explores how winemakers are reviving the use of a vessel that has been around since hunter-gatherer societies learned how to domesticate grapes.

“Imagine it's egg-shaped with a base and a little opening at the top,” Director of the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County Libbie Agran said.

She said winemaking using an amphora is a very different process than using barrels.

“There's a lot of carbon dioxide that’s released, and that makes the liquid move within the vessel,” Agran said. “So we don't have to get up at the top and stir it with a stick or anything like that; It's natural fermentation.”

Agran said wine made using an amphora has a distinct taste.

“It adds a certain freshness, and it's a very different taste and mouth feel,” Agran said.

Agran helped produce the Amphora Project alongside a team of documentary filmmakers.The film has already seen international acclaim, winning the Best Documentary Film Award in the Republic of Georgia.

Agran said what sets this film apart from other wine documentaries is its deeply personal look into local winemakers’ lives.

“We don't get to see behind the scenes what these winemakers are doing and how they feel about it, so this is a very intimate look into the life of each of the seven winemakers that are featured in the film,” Agran said.

Agran said the film showcases what makes winemaking in places like SLO and Paso Robles so special: the winemakers' willingness to experiment and take risks.

“I think that's one of the great things I've discovered about the county and makes our history so rich,” Agran said.

More information on the documentary is at, and the SLO Film Fest’s website is

Amanda Wernik is a reporter and substitute announcer at KCBX. She graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Journalism. During her time at Cal Poly, she worked as a news anchor for KCPR Radio and as an intern for the CJ Silas Show on ESPN Radio. Amanda enjoys surfing, reading, playing with her dog, traveling, and fronting her own rock band, Kiwi Kannibal.
Related Content
  • In the Vines is a five-part series exploring wine in Paso Robles. Through sound-rich feature reporting, KCBX's Benjamin Purper examines the positives and negatives of the city's transformation into a wine town, and what the future might hold for this emerging wine country.