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Entertainment Industry Meets Wine Industry

September 12, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action! In honor of the Emmy Awards this Saturday, September 17th, we catch up with actors and actresses, and directors and producers who have ventured from entertainment and into Paso Wine Country!

Nigel Lythgoe & Ken Warwick, Villa San-Juliette Winery, Casey Biggs, Refugio, Carol Hoyt, Hoyt Family Vineyards and Carole MacDonal, Il Cortile Ristorante & La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant share stories from the stage and open up about life in Paso Wine Country.

Nigel Lythgoe & Ken Warwick, Villa San-Juliette Winery

Producer (nigel), producer, director, and writer (ken)

What are a few of your TV projects?

Nigel: American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Gladiators, Pop Idol.

Ken: American Idol, the Rose d’Or, America’s Got Talent, Gladiators and Don’t Try This at Home

Fondest/funniest memory working in the entertainment industry?

Nigel: Watching the sensation that took place in America over William Hung (She bangs), and the development of all the talent that started with Idol.

Ken:  Walking into our pitch for Idol at the studios and seeing a table of 40 executives and wondering what we got ourselves into.

How did you go from entertainment to Paso Robles Wine Country?

Both: We had a glass of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon while in Las Vegas, and it was the best Cabernet we had ever tasted!

How did the entertainment industry prepare you for your role in Paso Robles Wine Country?

Both: We wanted to create an Estate that showcases our passions: wine, music, dance…the arts. Our experience in entertainment fueled the passion for Villa San-Juliette.

If you were a TV location scout, where would you shoot in Paso Robles Wine Country and why?

Both: Villa San-Juliette of course for its beauty. We imagined a scene out of Romeo and Juliet and built it in the Wine Country.

Sunday night is prime TV viewing time. In your opinion, what is the best time of year and/or time of day to be in Paso Robles Wine Country? Why?

Both: Harvest/Fall – the changing of the colors in the vineyard and the smell of the new vintages. This is also when we sell the most wine!

Casey Biggs, Refugio

actor

What are a few of your TV projects? My latest film projects: feature film “Sweet Parents” which has won awards at the Montreal Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, and the Lower East Side Film Festival. I’m currently filming “Heart of Paradise” in Paso!

I was on the Star Trek series “Deep Space Nine” as Legate Damar for five seasons and of course, know as “The Paso Wine Man,” a series of 19 short videos for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (look ’em up on YouTube!)

Fondest/funniest memory working in the entertainment industry? Having been a professional actor for forty years, I have to say every project has some specific memory that I carry with me. But having a three hundred pound tiger breathing on me three inches from my face in a spot for the “Paso Wine Man” series is not something I will soon forget!

How did you go from entertainment to Paso Robles Wine Country? Well, as they say, it all begins with falling in love. That would be with my wife who couldn’t take upstate New York and wanted to live in what she calls “Tuscany with Cowboys” so here we are, and I admit Paso Wine Country is very seductive.

If you were a TV location scout, where would you shoot in Paso Robles Wine Country and why? The problem is that there are a plethora of riches here. Everywhere you look is another jaw dropping view. In my film “Heart of Paradise,” we are shooting at Niner Vineyard with the backdrop of Heart Hill which should be one of the natural wonders of the world!

If (insert your character’s name) was to live and work in Paso Robles Wine Country, what would be his/her ideal job and why? Well, since the character I played on Deep Space Nine was very fond of his chilled adult beverage I would be the best interstellar “Kanar” vintner in the universe! And have “Damar’s Kanar Bar” on the square. (Kanar was the drink of choice for Cardassians…)

Sunday night is prime TV viewing time. In your opinion, what is the best time of year and/or time of day to be in Paso Robles Wine Country? Why? If I had to pick a time of year (which is tough since every time of year is special here in Paso) it would be the fall during harvest. The quality of light is charmed and magic hour is….well, magical.

Carol Hoyt, Hoyt Family Vineyards

actress

What are a few of your TV projects? I’m most well known as the villainess, Divatox on the Power Ranger series, as well as her “good” twin sister, Dimitri. I had guest roles on General Hospital, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and other shows like that!

Fondest/funniest memory working in the entertainment industry? Maintaining all of the friendships with the amazing people I met while in the industry! I brought my dog, Max on set with me while filming Power Rangers and he would sit down the second the director said, “rolling,” and would get up and walk on set the second they said “cut.” Everyone on set knew and loved him!

How did you go from entertainment to Paso Robles Wine Country? When my husband and I moved from New York to San Francisco, we stayed on a vineyard and got a bug for growing grapes! From there, we moved to Hollywood and after we had my daughter we knew we wanted to start growing grapes, so we brought vineyard in Malibu. We were sourcing grapes from Paso and loved the results, so we looked for property!

How did the entertainment industry prepare you for your role in Paso Robles Wine Country?When you have guests in your winery you have to be on and entertaining which is part of the fun! I love to cook, make wine and host people in the winery. This has become my stage – being in the winery and serving our guests!

If (insert your character’s name) was to live and work in Paso Robles Wine Country, what would be his/her ideal job and why? Divatox’s ideal job would be getting her minions to stomp the fruit and serve her wine

If your life was to be made into a TV series, what would be the title? Turn N Burn

Carole MacDonal, Il Cortile Ristorante & La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant

producer

What are a few of your TV projects? Produced a season of ‘Mexico: One Plate at a Time’ with Rick Bayless, 5 seasons of ‘The Amazing Race’ and was Executive in Charge of Production for 8 seasons of ‘The Biggest Loser.’

Fondest/funniest memory working in the entertainment industry? There are many moments I enjoyed, but the most memorable were a lot of the travels I experienced not just on the TV shows but in many of the film and commercial projects as well. My favorite places were while shooting in an outdoor market in Catania, Sicily and in another in Zanzibar. Meeting the local people in the various areas and learning what their lives were like was always a moment to just stop and soak it all in.

How did you go from entertainment to Paso Robles Wine Country? My husband, Chef Santos and I were planning to open a restaurant in LA. We unexpectedly had 3 days off together and decided to get away. We came up to the Central Coast and it was his first time up here. He took one look around and asked me if I’d think about opening the restaurant up here. We went back and forth for a year exploring different areas and finally decided to take the plunge and moved up here. We are very happy that we did!

If you were a TV location scout, where would you shoot in Paso Robles Wine Country and why? So many places! I particularly like the Templeton Gap and Willow Creek area wineries because I think they show the epitome of what this area has to offer as far as beauty and charm. And of course at our restaurants!

Sunday night is prime TV viewing time. In your opinion, what is the best time of year and/or time of day to be in Paso Robles Wine Country? Why? The Spring-  March and April. I have never seen a more beautiful place in the world that here in the spring. Plus, it is not too hot or too cold. The light is magical and the colors are like a film that was shot by Caleb Deschanel, my favorite cinematographer.

For visitors to Paso Robles, what entertainment/performing arts venues and/or events are a must do? I think everyone should go to at least one concert at Vina Robles, I enjoy the Mozaic Festival and the Paderewski Festival.