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In pursuit of the ‘Best Bottle’ of wine

Matthew Wilson (left), an attorney and producer, Robert Richards, a co-founder, and Scott Krauger, the chief executive officer of Gemini Digital Films are at the Warner Bros. Studios for a meeting with Chris Owen, the head of reality show development for Warner Bros. Television.

Matthew Wilson (left), an attorney and producer, Robert Richards, a co-founder, and Scott Krauger, the chief executive officer of Gemini Digital Films are at the Warner Bros. Studios for a meeting with Chris Owen, the head of reality show development for Warner Bros. Television.

By Matthew Skog – Photo by Brad Bakke

Humans have a passion for wine around the globe.

Wine can be found everywhere from the finest restaurants to the lowliest of grocery stores, and thanks to the work of two former Chemeketa students, it’s soon headed to a new television competition.

Chemeketa alumni Scott Krauger and Robert Richards have recently signed a deal with television and film distribution company Mance Media to produce a new wine making reality show called Best Bottle.

“It’s a reality TV show pitting prominent wine growing regions in a head to head competition to make the best bottle of wine,” Scott Krauger, CEO of Gemini Digital Films, says.

“Season one will feature a team from California versus a team from Oregon making pinot noir,” Robert Richards, co-founder of Gemini Digital Films and Executive Producer at Best Bottle, says. “Future seasons will showcase other regions like other US states, New Zealand, Chile, Spain, ect.”

Season one is scheduled to begin filming this Fall.

Krauger has years of experience in the wine industry.

“I’ve been an executive in the wine industry since the early 1990’s,” Krauger said. “I’ve built, developed, and managed wineries and vineyards all over the west cost for high profile wineries.”

Krauger and Richards recall the genesis of Best Bottle.

“In 2011 my business partner and I started a TV and film production company,” Krauger says. “I was working on a documentary called Heart of the Vine. One day an idea came to my mind, and it was to awesome to not make a reality, so Best Bottle was born.”

“During our work on Heart of the Vine, PBS aired two very well done documentaries about the Oregon wine industry,” Richards says. “So seeing that the market was saturated with that particular content, my business partner Scott suggested we change gears and make a reality TV show about wine.

“It was a great idea, so the next morning over coffee we sketched out our initial ideas and dove in.

“It took us two years and a fair amount of money to fully develop the show,” Richards says. “But now it’s developed and we’ve contracted Mance Media in Hollywood to act as our distribution agent. Currently we’re gathering show sponsors and putting together the funding to produce the series.”

Both men attribute much of there success to the education they received at Chemeketa.

“My time at Chemeketa was a wonderful experience,” Krauger says. “While having a successful career in the wine industry for the last 20 years, I wanted to learn all that I could about business and then apply it in ways that only having a strong education can facilitate.”

“I attended Chemeketa on a couple different occasions,” Richards says. “In my early 20s I studied Social Science and Political Science, and took a bunch of writing classes, but I didn’t receive a degree as I transferred to take some classes at Linfield. In my 30s I attended Chemeketa and studied Building Inspection Technology, earning my Associate of Applied Science degree.

“My writing classes definitely helped prepare me for my position as Lead Writer for Best Bottle and Gemini Digital Films. My focus on Social and Political Sciences helped prepare me with a broader understanding of culture, history, politics, economics, and learning to wade through all the opinions expressed and get to the facts.”

Some Chemeketa instructors and staff left a lasting impression on Krauger.

“Instructors like Andrew Bone, whom I took accounting from, impacted me in ways that have taken my business mind to new levels,” Krauger says. “Steve Slemenda, from whom I took several classes in Film Appreciation – which was one of the hardest classes I took – opened my mind to thinking and seeing life in new ways.

“Mike Evans and his team in TRIO gave me tremendous support in my pursuit to expand my mind and become the first in my family to graduate from college. And Kathy Campbell in the financial aid office is one of the sweetest ladies at Chemeketa. She took the time to help me navigate through the financial aid process, and in the process enriched my life.

“Chemeketa gave me a first class education.”

The business duo have some advice to share with students who may be considering a similar path.

“First, you have to understand business,” Richards says. “There are a million starry-eyed dreamers who think that a good idea is all you need to make it big in Hollywood. Nothing could be further from the truth. You need to have a detailed business plan including budgets, expected return on investment, and a host of data that show precisely how the idea makes money, how much it costs to produce your product, and how much profit will be made and when. In short, you need to run a real business to succeed.

“Shortcuts don’t work and one-man-band operations are almost certainly doomed to fail.

“Second, to succeed, an entrepreneur must work on their business, not in their business,” Richards says. “You must find talented people who have the skills you don’t have and integrate them into your team.

“For example, don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the bookkeeping weeds when tax time rolls around. Hire a pro that can get it done correctly, on time, with minimal guidance from you. Yes, that costs money, but it will free up your time to do all the things that grow your business, and in the end that’s what it’s all about.”

Krauger wants students to know that getting an education is one of the most important things you can do.

“You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you,” Krauger says. “Getting an education and expanding your mind is something that can never be taken from you. Invest in yourself through education, and live your life with passion and purpose with the intent of changing our world, and leaving it better because of what you accomplished.”

More information about Best Bottle can be found at www.winebestbottle.com. More information about Krauger and Richards’ production company, Gemini Digital Films, can be found at www.geminidigitalfilms.com.

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