Ian Cauble, star of the documentary Somm, is in the Valley this weekend for the Okanagan Food Wine & Film Festival.
"I get to attend festivals like this and taste and talk about wine, which I love," Cauble said Friday night after the screening of Somm at the Okanagan Food Wine & Film Festival in Kelowna.
"Being in Somm has opened up a lot of opportunities for me."
Somm, short for the wine expert certification sommelier, is the new hour-and-a-half documentary by director Jason Wise that follows San Francisco-based Cauble and two of his wine-loving friends on their journey to take the master sommelier exam.
The master designation is the fourth and final in the sommelier world, and only five per cent of the advanced sommeliers who take the uber-tough exams pass.
With the odds against them, the three friends are followed by the cameras as they drink and study in preparation for the exams.
There's humour, emotional outbursts, self-doubt, confidence and camaraderie.
Cauble is portrayed as the most intense, capable and sure of himself, and so the most likely to be among the five per cent who pass.
The two friends are second-guessers, more insecure and seem like the ones who will fail. But, after much hand-wringing, it's the two friends who pass the exams and Cauble who misses.
The last scene of the documentary is the next year and shows Cauble calling his girlfriend on the phone to tell her he's passed.
"The film is hard to watch for me," said Cauble.
"It was an intense time of my life. In the real world, I'm pretty chill, but Somm really seemed to bring out my seriousness."
While Somm was being filmed, Cauble was wine director at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort near San Francisco.
Just before he became only the 197th master sommelier in the world, he accepted a job as U.S. ambassador for the luxury French champagne brand Krug.
He's now also launching SommSelect.com, a flash site where he will sell incredible wines he's sourced direct to the consumer.
Cauble has appeared at screenings of Somm in Napa and Santa Barbara, Calif., but this is his first trip to Canada.
"The Okanagan is absolutely gorgeous, and really it is just beginning as a wine region. It has so much potential," he said.
"I've come across so many good wines already - the Foxtrot Pinot Noir from Naramata and the Rieslings from Ex Nihilo (Lake Country) and Tantalus (Kelowna)."
After a champagne reception, Cauble watched Somm with the Okanagan crowd at the Rotary Centre for the Arts theatre, took part in a question and answer session after the screening and mingled with guests at the food and wine session afterward.
The inaugural Okanagan Food Wine & Film Festival continued Saturday with two more receptions and feature documentaries (Betting the Farm and A Matter of Taste) and an afternoon of short films.
Today, there are eight more shorts starting at 2 p.m. They cover topics as diverse as honey bees, supper clubs, cheese wars, pickles, grape harvest and oysters.
For more information and last-minute tickets, check out OKFoodWineFilmFest.com.