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​The Winemaker

written by

M. Charles McBee

An original screenplay in 115 pages

Logline: "In The Vineyards"

When a former winemaker, now in her job as a county vineyard zoning officer, 
investigates ownership rights to a Lake, she reluctantly takes on a politically connected, powerful winery owner, and his mentally challenged brother, 
in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. 
Running from a past wound, and being under the microscope of the Napa County police,
 Cindy Rix finally finds a moment –
one with the potential for a horrific outcome – 
to bring closure to a memory and an incident haunting her the past two years.

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First of all, fog builds and surrounds an eerie darkness - thick - wet - swirling gray-white fog - it sticks to just visible GRAPE VINES in this quiet place that will vibrate soon with the sounds of the harvest - and it's where...

CINDY RIX - thirty something - a looker - anguished - jogs - 

                                                              Supertitle: Present Day

                                                         Near Charlottesville, Virginia

Cindy! Where the hell are you going? Just chill, girl! Just suck it all in. You're in the vineyards! You're home! You're home! Look! It's the wee hours - no sun - just a special glow in the east - time to embrace that quiet refuge so desperately needed at this time in your life.
(a long beat - reset)
It's been two years now and I've claimed this lonely place - it's all mine - an escape back to the fragile make-believe reality of my most awesome dreams - expectations of a better life for my son and I since...
(a seething beat)
Since...Alfred's death -

She scoots by row upon row upon row of ripe Cabernet Sauvignon fruit that dangles from the vines - ready to be picked and hauled away to a winery crush pad.

 This soothing, peaceful elixir of vineyards settles my anxiety - and yes...oh, freakin' yes...a  better  choice than that little Prozac pill. And that sound of dew-drops? Hear it? Lush green leaves piss  down onto that messy red clay - and these vines? They're all I need to bargain with...
(a beat)
...maybe to hide a disturbing secret.

Jogging, her view is now distracted by a 25 acre Lake off in the distance, through the soupy mist.

That calm surface on Monticello Lake over there? It hides a secret, for sure. And it's about to up-end this small community before I get done. What lies beneath? A natural gas reserve, so I'm told - may put my temporary career change to the test.

She develops a hard, anguished frown - she pushes hard - fists clenched - her running shoes dig into clay. 

A temporary course correction from the past is what I needed. I can't - no, I just can't - I can't let my mind wander back to the Napa Valley...to my winery...to my past...
(a beat)
Those unwelcome mental pull-backs grabbing at memory cells in my brain - those images that still creep back - the fuss over an accident - or was it more? Was it a crime? Or not. Well...not to worry. It was far away from here. In another place. Another time in my life. Another life...
(a beat)
I'm over it...yeah, that's right...I am freakin' over it... 

She vanishes when, just like that -

A MAN - WILSON BUCK (39)- slinks past a weathered cedar sign through the damp fog - his gait suggests someone unhinged -and he's pissed as his eyes search the area - a sign he's in need of anger management.

The sign: "Buck Estate Vineyards" -

A wisp of fog partially obscures its faded yellow letters - as WILSON and the sign vanish in a thick chowder of misty white -


Fruit-laden VINES - a heavy concentration of morning dew - and now the MAN - WILSON - comes into view again -

His eyes are more than just telling - they're dangerous.

Then somewhere o.s...

The JOGGER - CINDY RIX - CRUNCHES - And approaches another quiet spot in the vineyard. And then...

Bursts from around a vineyard post - now down a new row - HER body firm, in control of every SMASHING step.

SHE glides as her eyes scan rows of vines - the focused look of an experienced winemaker penetrates each cluster of ripe fruit.


Another glimpse of WILSON - and he's in camouflage - his hand muzzles...a JACK RUSSELL TERRIER -

Wilson, eying Cindy, gives off a threatening chuckle as he peeks through a layer of vines at...


Her quick glances zero in on hanging CABERNET SAUVIGNON to her left and right - then she bolts around another vineyard post.


Through the fog, low-beam head lights of a pick-up travels over a clay road through the vineyards while in the b.g. barely visible through the fog -


Stands - sweating, breathing hard - alongside a row of vines on a narrow path in the vineyards - ducks behind the vines -

A moment as she watches the pick-up roll to a stop - §


Now alongside the pick-up - the DRIVER -


Pushing 40 - grips a well-used clip board - a PICKING KNIFE, its curved sharp hook dangles - in the b.g. a sign -

"Buck Estate Vineyards"

Tony stows the knife in a pocket with some trepidation -

                                                               Vamanos, mis amigos! Rapido!
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