River Stone winery serves as backdrop for romantic film

River Stone winery serves as backdrop for romantic film

The film crew sets up a simulated harvest at River Stone during a shoot. Photo contributed
The film crew sets up a simulated harvest at River Stone during a shoot. Photo contributed
The film crew sets up a simulated harvest at River Stone during the shoot. Photo contributed

Audiences are going to swoon after experiencing Autumn in the Vineyard.

The made-for-TV movie was just shot last week around Oliver and Osoyoos, and to capture the serenity that can only be found at a South Okanagan vineyard, producers chose to materialize their creative vision at River Stone Estate Winery.

The star of the story will be actor Rachael Leigh Cook (best known for playing Josie in the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats) who takes on the role of a present-day young woman caught in the middle of a family feud, and circumstances forcing her and a man from the other family to co-manage a vineyard together. Although contention between the two families seems irreconcilable at first, their shared goal of a fruitful harvest paves the way towards a romantic relationship.

Autumn in the Vineyard is based on a 2013 novel by Marina Adair. Adair and her husband were both at River Stone last week during filming, but they had very little input towards the screenplay, said River Stone co-owner Lorraine Kane.

“She wrote the novel but not the screenplay,” Kane said. “She was very relaxed and comfortable that other people were now responsible for what the end product would look like. She was very happy to watch it unfold – her cheeks were sore from smiling so much.”

Kane said she was approached by the production company after three days of scouring the South Okanagan for the perfect spot.

“And then someone finally suggested River Stone.”

The crew was on location for four days, Kane said, and her whole property, and a slice of the neighbours, was occupied by a crew of more than 50.

There was a truck for food and trailers for dressing, and the crew worked for 12.5 hours each day. Because the winery featured in Autumn in the Vineyard isn’t called River Stone, a sign for the fictional winery was built and temporarily installed for the filming. There was also a live llama included in the shoot.

But despite dressing it up as a different vineyard, much of River Stone’s DNA was incorporated into the story. Most notably would be Kane’s husband and son, who were both needed as extras in the filming and portrayed their real-life roles as vineyard workers.

River Stone was able to keep its wine shop open during the filming, and Kane said customers were amused to see what was going on.

“One day they were filming where our guests normally park, so they were shuttling guests up and down the hill, and sometimes had to wait for a break in filming for the shuttle to cross.”

Kane said the film crew was extremely courteous, and were impressed by how open and welcoming everyone is in the South Okanagan.

“In Vancouver, the film industry is booming; it’s busy and taxing for people in the city, whereas for us out here it’s still kind of a novelty.”

During the filming, smoke was needed as a prop, and there were a few neighbours who saw it thinking the Kane property might be in trouble.

“Our neighbour came barreling up in his truck thinking the house was on fire.”

Kane said the movie is being produced by the Hallmark Channel which is exclusive to audiences in the United States.

“I asked for a screening locally but Hallmark holds onto their property pretty tightly,” she said.

Kane will ask again about a local screening, she said, but otherwise, audiences won’t be able to watch Autumn in the Vineyard unless they have access to the Hallmark Channel, which will be premiering the movie on Oct. 15 at 9 p.m.

By Dan Walton