Bernardo Ruiz's Latest Film HARVEST SEASON Premieres May 13 on PBS' Independent Lens


Harvest Season, a timely and moving portrait of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans behind California’s multibillion-dollar wine industry by two-time Emmy® nominated documentary filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz (ReporteroKingdom of Shadows), will have its national broadcast premiere on Monday, May 13, 10pm-11:30pm EDT (check local listings) on PBS and will also be available simultaneously for online streaming at PBS’ Independent Lens. 

Far-reaching and compassionate in its scope, Harvest Season probes the lives of the temporary laborers, permanent residents, and multigenerational Latinos intimately connected to the production of premium wines in the Napa and Sonoma regions of Northern California—in the midst of one of the most dramatic grape harvests in recent memory. 

The film follows the stories of three distinct subjects essential to the wine industry yet, as with many others, are rarely recognized for their contributions: veteran winemaker Gustavo Brambila, Mexican migrant worker René Reyes, and wine entrepreneur Vanessa Robledo. Harvest Season successfully stitches together vignettes of daily life for migrant workers and positions them next to stories of Mexican-American wine entrepreneurs whose roots run deep in Northern California.

Their stories unfold against the complex backdrop of reality in California’s Wine Country—a region of immense wealth that’s accountable for $1.53 billion in export revenue last year. From this notion, Ruiz exposes Napa and Sonoma counties as spaces that inherently symbolize the contradictions foundational to the American story: romanticized global destinations replete with luxury hotels and precious real estate on the one hand, and working-class agricultural communities with high rates of poverty and crises in affordable housing on the other.

Following the wildfires in the area in October of 2017, which caused widespread damage and claimed 44 lives, Ruiz stays on location to document the rebuilding process—making sure to recognize the efforts of these communities that have long been the backbone of one of California’s most important industries.