Harvest Season

A catastrophic wildfire comes to wine country, where migrant laborers are hit the hardest — and are essential for the area to rebuild.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
May 13, 2019
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2019 Imagen Awards-Best Documentary
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2020 James Beard Foundation-Broadcast Media Award - Documentary
  • Director

    Bernardo Ruiz

    Bernardo Ruiz is a two-time Emmy® nominated documentary filmmaker based in New York. He was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn. His directorial feature debut, Reportero, (POV, 2013) about a group of dogged reporters at a Tijuana weekly, premiered at Full Frame (U.S.), IDFA (Europe) and Ambulante (Mexico). New York Magazine called it “a Show more powerful reminder of how journalism often requires immense amounts of physical and psychological bravery.”  His second feature documentary, Kingdom of Shadows, financed by Participant Media, (POV, 2016) premiered at SXSW in the U.S. and IDFA in Europe. “Many documentaries have chronicled the drug war in the U.S. and Mexico,” writes Slackerwood of the film, “but few have humanized it as poignantly as Kingdom of Shadows. [It] is more observant than crusading...rooted in first-rate journalism.” The New York Times called it “unforgettable.”  His latest, Harvest Season, about the behind-the-scenes players in the premium California wine industry, premiered on Independent Lens in May 2019. “Told expertly and with some startlingly gorgeous photography,” Criterion Cast writes of the film, “director Bernardo Ruiz gives a first hand account of small wine producers and the struggles they face both economically and politically in 2018 America...a film that’s as beautiful as it is intimate and emotionally moving.”  Ruiz is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fellowship in film and was awarded the Rockefeller Bellagio residency. His work has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur foundation Sundance, ITVS, Cinereach and the Fledgling Fund, among others. In the fall of 2015, Ruiz was a filmmaker in residence at the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and recently joined the documentary branch of The Academy. Show less

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    The Film

    Boutique hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and elegant tasting rooms overlooking vineyards — that’s the way we see California’s Napa Valley. Missing from this tourism bureau Instagram feed are the people just off-camera whose unseen labors keep wine country in business.

    Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz set out to paint a more nuanced picture, turning his camera in 2017 on Napa’s new generation of Latino winemakers, as well as the often low-wage, largely Latino workforce of grafters, pruners, pickers, and cellar workers. Then, devastating wildfires tore through the region, killing 42 people and leveling hundreds of buildings in Napa and the surrounding counties. The firestorms laid bare not just neighborhoods and hillsides and fields but also, as natural disasters do, the stark economic disparities dividing communities. Harvest Season bears witness to the wildfires and the repercussions for an unheralded, largely immigrant workforce.