Producer selects Nassau vineyards for show

Television segment airing on German, French television
Videographer Sascha Kellersohn and director/producer Sven Jaax prepare to interview Peggy Raley-Ward outside her Nassau Valley Vineyards office. BY RON MACARTHUR
September 16, 2013

During this busy summer at Nassau Valley Vineyards, owner Peggy Raley-Ward didn't expect a phone call from a German television producer asking to do a show on her family's business.

The vineyards, the first in Delaware, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Once Sven Jaax met her, he knew right away he wanted to put the vineyard's story on film for a TV show called “The American East Coast from Above,” which will air on German and French public TV.

Jaax said the “above” part is just one segment of the show because his interviews with people on the ground are the foundation. He said he spent several months searching the internet for interesting people living near the coast from Key West, Fla., to Maine. “We wanted charismatic people who were charming and interesting,” he said during a Sept. 5 filming session at the vineyards near Lewes.

He soon learned that Raley-Ward fit the bill, and then some.

Over the past two months, Jaax and his crew have been on a whirlwind tour of the coast filming unique stories including a shark scientist, an oceanographer in Duck, N.C., a bug specialist in Tom's River, N.J., and man in Georgia who specializes in burials at sea. He said they did an interesting story on a real estate agent who was trying to sell a $28 million home in Long Island belonging to a McDonald's executive. The crew's time in New York City – where they followed a bike messenger and a Brooklyn photographer – was too fast-paced, he said.

He said he prefers the lifestyle in Lewes. “This has been one of my favorite places,” he said. “Peggy is a great character; this has been one of our few quiet places.”

He said he was looking forward to hearing her sing.

Several weeks ago, a helicopter crew flew over the vineyards doing aerial shots during a marathon shooting session along the East Coast. “The only trouble we had was that we couldn't fly over Martha's Vineyard; air space was closed because Obama was there,” Jaax said.

Jaax, who has been in the United States for two months, said he will be returning home soon while a colleague will finish the series with more stories to film in New England. The five-segment show will air in 2014.

Raley-Ward said her only regret is that her father, Bob Raley, passed away just a few days before he could meet the crew and be interviewed. “Dad was really excited that these guys were coming,” she said. The idea that Raley-Ward and her father started the family business two decades ago is what captured the producer's interest.

Ironically, Jaax came to meet with Raley-Ward from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and he passed Onancock, Va., where her father is interred.


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