Cement Suitcase is a comedy – tragedy about a character named Franklin. He works at a winery in Yakima Valley, and has to deal with life’s blows. It’s an award-winning, independent film about a tasting room manager and his humorous attempts to get control of his life. If you love independent films, and you love wine country, this one will make you feel like you’d enjoy going to this winery and spending time with Franklin. I can see why it’s won so many independent film awards. I also enjoy that it’s included the Latino culture as a lead character, instead of another person just behind the scenes.

As soon as I saw where the movie was filmed, I realized that I had been there… Both at the Airfield Wines company, where it was filmed; and on a separate trip in life, having also experienced a pretty good betrayal in love… Who hasn’t, those of us who have dared to love, and it’s ended up being with the wrong person?

BTW, the name of the winery has not been changed in the movie. It is what it is… Airfield Wines. It also has this splendid wine tasting room that you don’t see in this movie, because Franklin may have broken the wine glass chandelier (above) with his antics.

According to the producers: The best wine salesman in the Yakima Valley is headed for a breakdown, and only two people can help him. One just broke into his house. The other is having an affair with his girlfriend.

For any of my friends who have worked in a tasting room, you’ll be able to identify with many of Franklin’s insights; but also, you’ll think, “Why didn’t I ever think of that?” Franklin turns his tasting room upside down and backwards, reminding me of Bill Cadman (Tulocay Winery in Napa Valley).

I worked with Bill at Robert Mondavi Winery. We were both wine educators. He’d come in once or twice a week, and was actually the first wine tour that I experienced. New educators spent the first day “in the field” taking other educators’ tours. This way, we would witness how each educator had developed his or her own style of their basic wine ed program:

  1. Tour the vineyards for viticulture
  2. Tour the crush area for harvest techniques
  3. Tour the wine cellar to know how wines are made
  4. Attend a tasting, to put it all together

Bill had eyes rolling, having more than a few people asking themselves if they had landed on Mars. It was his description of the chemical process by which wine is made… how carbon dioxide and alcohol are exuded in the fermentation process. I can’t even say it here, because it’s a true Juicy Tale that won’t see the light of day for anyone on this blog. Off site, yeah; if I know you, I can tell you. Here? Nope…

The character in this movie also pulls pranks that are beyond anything I’ve seen in a tasting room, but the theatrics are well worth seeing.

Written and directed by J. Rick Castañeda, Cement Suitcase is a quirky comedy, filmed on location at the Airfield Wine company. Based in the rural wine country of Washington State in Yakima Valley, it’s won several festival awards for its story of someone who finds that it’s time to let go of some baggage. In the process, he can sell a lot of fantasies, along with the wine. It’s his own fantasy that must be rebuilt in the process, however.

If you’re looking for a movie that’s based in wine country and has the nuances of it as a subplot, perhaps you’ll enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Winner of the following awards:

  • Dances with Films Audience Award
  • Santa Cruz Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection, Tacoma Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection, Big Bear Lake International Film Festival 2013
  • Official Selection LALIFF 2013
  • Ellensburg Audience Award 2013
  • Director’s Choice Award Gig Harbor Film Festival 2013
  • Eugene International Film Festival Best Narrative Feature 2013
  • SLFF Seattle Latino Film Festival 2013
  • Orlando Film Festival Official Selection 2013

The movie is available on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a host of other cable and streaming platforms.

Here’s a trailer of Cement Suitcase.