June 16, 2024

Episode #708 – Disney Filmmaker Turned Winemaker Finally Meets His Mentor After 15 Years!

Episode 708 of Grape Encounters Radio will surely charm and inspire you as we finally facilitate the long-overdue introduction of Gil Gagnon and Wes Hagen, two vastly different men united by an insatiable passion: winemaking. Join us for an hour-long journey that will both thrill you and warm your heart as we follow their story from opposite sides of the proverbial fence to a place where one’s dream comes true and another’s passion takes flight.

On one side, there’s Disney veteran Gil Gagnon; with more than 20 years in his wake, his name pops up on hundreds of films, including some of Disney’s biggest hits like Titanic, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Little Mermaid. After a fairytale career in the motion picture industry, Gil made the decision to leave his comfort zone and pursue his dream of making wine; he now runs one of Southern California’s most successful winemaking operations from the Temecula Valley.

On the other side, there’s Wes Hagen, who recently took the reins as Market Manager and Brand Ambassador for Native 9 Winery, an ultra-boutique, hyper-premium producer with roots dating all the way back to the 1700s. But that title only scratches the surface of Wes’ storied career in the world of fine wine.  Wes is also an author, educator, wine judge, winemaker, entertainer, and Renaissance Man… the list goes on and on! Indeed, few can doubt his expertise and passion when it comes to viniculture.

It was nearly 15 years ago that Gil came across an intriguing episode of Grape Encounters Radio while driving to work at Disney.  The show was entitled, “You, too, can be a winemaker!”  Gil was immediately entranced. As a matter of fact, he was so captivated that he downloaded the podcast version of that episode and says he listened to it 45 times, eventually deciding to take the plunge, quit his job as senior vice president of post-production at Disney Films, and set out on a mission to make exceptional wines.

After several years of honing his winemaking skills, Gil and his family moved to the Temecula Valley, a wine region located between California’s Orange County and San Diego.  However, now empty-nesters and with a desire to live in a less action-packed locale, Gil and his wife Rae pulled up stakes and headed to the solitude of the Santa Ynez Valley, home to numerous small boutique producers and less than 2 hours north of LA.  It’s also the region Wes Hagen has called home for decades.

Quite remarkably, even though Gil’s life did a literal 180 after hearing Wes’ sage winemaking wisdom, 15 years had passed without them even so much exchanging an email… until today!

Both men have been united by shared tenacity since their first “un-encounter” nearly 15 years ago by virtue of their shared passion for the craft. Now, finally, they have a chance to formally meet and share their stories with you on Episode 708 of Grape Encounters Radio – an hour that will be sure to inspire and enthrall listeners alike as two worlds collide!

Today’s edition of Grape Encounters has been brought to you by Total Wine & More. Absolutely nobody makes great wines, spirits, and beer from around the globe more accessible and affordable than Total Wine & More. Whether you’re an expert, a sommelier in training, or just a wine-loving consumer that could do without all the jargon, Total Wine & More speaks your language. Find what you love. Love what you find, at Total Wine & More, or visit TotalWine.com. And please, be 21!

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