As amazed as he was at how quickly Lima Papa Production Services set up at Chateau des Charmes to shoot scenes for a new TV series, Paul Bosc was just as astonished at how quickly it was all taken down.
On Thursday, a few members of the crew were busy packing up the last remnants of a garden set for The Kings of Napa. The new drama about a successful, multi-generational wine-making family will air next year on OWN – The Oprah Network. The Niagara-on-the-Lake location fills in for the Napa Valley on the hour-long drama series.
Bosc explained that a location manager, Bryn Garrison, visited the winery some time in the winter to scope things out for filming, before the recent lockdown was anticipated.
“I wasn’t expecting a third lockdown at the time,” Bosc said. “We signed a contract, and it was very detailed in terms of our own access to the building, including which of our employees could work. They were adamant that there was to be no public access to the facility. We had to be prepared for that. It ended up being a moot point as we’re only opening now that they’re gone.”
The castle-like building serves as the exterior of the King family home for the Warner Bros. production. The series stars Ebonee Noel as August King, who winds up in a power struggle with her two siblings to take control of the business after the family’s patriarch suddenly decides to vacate his post at the top. Co-stars include Karen LeBlanc, Yaani King Mondschein and Rance Nix.
Though Bosc had no interaction at all with the cast members, he and his 14-year-old son Alex had a chance to spend some time on set with the director. Matthew A. Cherry is a former professional football player who spent time with the NFL’s Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Carolina and Baltimore systems. He is best known for winning the 2019 Oscar for his animated short film, Hair Love.
“He started talking football with Alex,” Bosc said. “Then he let us hang out at his side. We were looking through what he was looking at, which was the view from the drone. They had an $80,000 drone with a $50,000 camera mounted on it. It was doing all these incredible sweeping shots of the building.”
The setting and architecture of Chateau des Charmes is what sealed the deal for the production company.
“One of the factors that played into our hands,” explained Bosc. “is that the producers said of all the wineries they looked at, this is the one that’s closest to being residential. In fact, many times over the years we’ve been asked if we live here.
“This location is just so sweeping,” Bosc continued. “There’s no neighbours, no buildings, nothing to give away that this isn’t California. The building itself becomes sort of a character. It reminded me of Dallas, and Southfork Ranch.”
On Wednesday, a fleet of luxury cars, including McLarens, vintage Rolls Royces and Land Rovers dotted the Chateau des Charmes parking lot, as cameras filmed them arriving at the front of the building. Each car was fitted with a California licence plate, including a custom tag on a Porsche Carrera that read King CFO.
Another scene featured a City of Napa police cruiser. It was shot at the entrance to the building, where a member of the King family was being arrested and dragged out of the house. Bosc said the police car had its lights on all day as the shoot continued.
The crew also transformed the back of the chateau, distmantling a 4,000 square foot tent capable of holding 250 people in Michele’s Courtyard, named for Bosc’s late wife. A few scenes were shot with the King family interacting back there.
“It became a very elaborate formal garden,” Bosc described, “with an outdoor dining room, and a big fountain that looked like the real one out front. They built these low walls that matched the stonework of the chateau, out of some kind of light material. They held fake flowers that, if you took a step back, looked so real. My dad asked me how the masons worked so quickly to build the walls.”
Bosc said they also shot in the barrel cellar.
Shooting was scheduled to continue until at least Thursday evening, but by 2 p.m. that day only a fleet of golf carts and a few crew members remained.
Martin Lindqvist, the winery’s director of hospitality, was informed by the crew that a call had come in at 11:30 p.m. the previous evening.
“They had to get to the studio (in Mississauga, at the International Centre) to shoot,” Lindqvist said. “They had to make a call whether or not they were going to be able to finish up some shooting there that was going to be crucial. The studio at this point took precedence.”
Lima Papa location manager David Korchok said that with studio space at a premium right now, they had to take advantage of its availability. Most of the interior scenes for the program will be shot there, while there are also plans to use Toronto’s Varsity Stadium and potentially a location in Port Hope for other scenes.
Conveniently, the decision to pull out early made it easier for Bosc, Lundqvist and their staff to prepare to throw the winery’s doors open to the public last Saturday. Also convenient, in a way, was the fact that all of the filming took place during a time when the winery was closed to visitors.
Lundqvist said the production company is planning to return in August, but final details have yet to be approved. Korchok also told Bosc that he might expect a call within six months or so for Lima Papa to return once again next year, if a second season of Kings of Napa is approved. And Bosc, for his part, looks forward to those future interruptions.
“They found lots of different points to shoot from, which is why I think they’re going to have to come back in the future,” Bosc told The Local. “They can’t shoot everything inside the studio. There’s going to have to be outdoor scenes. If it’s about wine country, some of it has to take place in the great outdoors.”