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8 Favorite Wine and Travel Movies
My favorite wine-themed movies and documentaries with movie trailers included.
#1 Bottle Shock
This is my number one favorite wine movie. The reason? The reason could be that I studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. Why else? Could it be because I loved the fact that two wines, a white and a red from an unknown wine region - Napa Valley (Chateau Montelena and Stags Leap Wine Cellars) - beat the First Growth Chateaus and Grande Cru French wines in a 1976 blind tasting using French judges? It could be the fact that I love most Napa Valley wines. Or it could be because I think Alan Rickman is wonderful in the role of Steven Spurrier? Or could it be because I show this movie to all my friends who visit me when I rent homes while visiting Napa Valley. Or, because Chris Pine, and Bill Pullman are incredible actors? All of the above!
About: The movie tells the story of how Napa Valley beat the best of France France Bordeaux and Burgundy wines in a blind tasting:
-dubbed by George Tabor of Time Magazine the “Paris Wine Tasting of 1976” or “The Judgment of Paris.” Here is the updated story: “How America Kicked France in the Pants And Changed the World of Wine Forever.”
In the movie you see Napa Valley before it was so famous. I sure miss Alan Rickman who plays the main character, an Englishman named Steven Spurrier, who also just passed away. I actually received my level 4 Diploma of Wine from Steven Spurrier in London. See Photo below.
Actors: Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman
Where you can watch/rent it: Prime Video/Amazon, Netflix/dvd.com
Chateau Montelena’s Bo Barrett (Played by Chris Pine) tells the real story of Bottle Shock and the Judgment of Paris.
# 2 Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
About: When a woman’s seemingly happy marriage abruptly ends, she goes into a funk. Urged by her friends she moves to Tuscany where she impulsively buys a crumbling villa, repairs the house with a screwball group of friends, and falls in love with a charming stranger. The moral: Take life’s chances. If you are like me, you’ll see this movie multiple times. Beautiful vistas and romance make this a charming movie. From the book by Frances Mayers, Under the Tuscan Sun.
Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta, Kate Walsh
Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime video, Google Play, Youtube, Apple TV, iTunes, Vudu
# 3 Somm (2012)
About: What a great movie to help those who are not wine experts/Sommeliers understand the exclusivity and struggle to get to the top echelon of that profession. I know several people in the movie. Unfortunately in October 2020 the New York Times broke the story, “The Wine World’s Most Elite Circle Has a Sexual Harassment Problem,” which set off a scandal in the Court of Master Sommeliers. Fortunately for me, my wine certifications come from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust®, so I did not experience any of those issues. My next track would be to the IMW – Institute of Masters of Wine for the top level.
The Court of Master Sommeliers is now headed by Emily Wines, MS as Chair, and is working to correct past wrongs. I wrote about Emily Wines, MS, a wonderful Master Sommelier in my newsletter: “America’s Largest Wine Club: Cooper’s Hawk,” where Emily Wines, MS, is the Vice President, Wine and Beverage.
Starring: Brian McClintic, Bo Barrett, Shayn Bjornholm, Dave Cauble, Fred Dame, DLynn Proctor
Where you can watch it: Amazon Video, Hulu, Apple TV, iTunes
#4 Sour Grapes (2016)
About: A documentary about the fine and rare wine auction marketing centering around a counterfeiter, Rudy Kurniawan, who befriended the rich and powerful and sold million of dollars of fraudulent wine through top auction houses. One of the Koch brothers, Bill Koch, American billionaire, was a victim and found fake bottles in his collection. Bill Koch hired private detectives and wine provenance experts (Maureen Downey) and filed a lawsuit to help put Rudy away. Rudy was the biggest wine fraudster to be convicted in the US. A look at the dark side of wine collecting.
Starring: Rudy Kurniawan, Bill Koch, Maureen Downey, Rajat Parr, Jay McInerney
Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube
#5 Uncorked (2020)
About: Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) must find a way to balance his dream of becoming a master sommelier with his father’s expectations for him to carry on the family’s popular Memphis barbeque joint. A warm and funny movie for wannabe wine experts.
Starring: Mamoudou Athie, Courtney B. Vance, Niecy Nash.
Where you can watch it: Netflix
#6 A Walk in The Clouds (1995)
About: A returning war veteran helps and marries a pregnant woman who is returning from college to help with the grape harvest where she must face her Old World domineering father. Some view this as a sappy wine romance but others, like me, view the visuals worth it.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Debra Messing
Where you can watch it:
#7 Sideways (2004)
About: I just finished a newsletter on the 17th Anniversary of the release of the hit movie, Sideways, ”Is Merlot Alive and Kicking 17 Years After the Movie, Sideways?” Some great actors, but some fairly gross spittoon scenes. The sales of Pinot Noir highly benefitted from this movie filmed in the gorgeous wine ares of Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara.
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Where you can watch it: Hulu, Cinemax, iTunes, Apple TV, Prime Video
#8 Decanted – A Winemaker’s Journey (2016)
About: Hover over picturesque Napa Valley with some famous winemakers – including Heidi Barrett, maker of the cult wine, Screaming Eagle. Napa Valley is only 30 miles long but is the region where some of the best grapes in the world are grown. This feature length documentary follows the development of a brand new winery seen through the eyes of elite winemakers. See what it takes to make it in Napa Valley.
“People spend too much time tasting wine; not enough drinking it.” – André Tchelistcheff, celebrated winemaker.
Starring: Steve Reynolds, Julien Fayard, Anthony Bell, Heidi Barrett
Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, iTunes
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An Interview with A Cal-Ital Winemaker: Pietro Burritta of Prima Mateira Winery
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Visual Journeys in Wine Regions – A Interview with Premier Vineyard Photographer Janis Miglavs
An Interview with Dr. Liz Thach, Author: Ten Hot Wine Trends for 2021 in the US Market