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Wine Moments of the Big and Small Screen

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine Lifestyle

It seems to me that people will make a movie about anything (White Chicks...seriously?). From anacondas to Zorro's, if there is a camera, there will be a film. A not-so-recent addition to this movie bandwagon is the food and drink industry. Strange Brew made beer famous, Supersize Me showcased the unhealthiness of fast food, Leaving Las Vegas spotlighted hard alcohol, and Babe, well, that was all about pork.

Wine, not to be left out, has begun to get noticed. Many movies have featured wine in supporting roles- a bottle thrown against a wall or a drop of Zinfandel spilled on a white dress for dramatic effect - but wine has yet to plant its seed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, this may soon change: wine is becoming more and more popular as a subject matter, leaving me to wonder if it will soon become a diva, demanding to be fanned with giant leaves and fed grapes (cannibals!).

This following is a list of some of the best wine related movies in my cellar.

Sideways (2004)

If ever there were a movie the wine industry should toast, it is this one. Sideways did for wine what Psycho did for locks on bathroom doors. This movie tells the tale of Miles, a washed up English teacher, and Jack, an engaged actor, who travel to the Santa Ynez Valley for a week long wine tour. Miles wants merely to drink wine, while Jack wants to meet women before he says, "I do." When they meet Maya and Stephanie, a waitress and a winery employee, their hopes of finding wine leads them to find something greater.

Sideways was a critically acclaimed film, winning an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Not only did it launch the careers of several unknown actors and actresses, but it also lit a fire under the wine industry. In fact, it is rumored that the sales of Pinot Noir – thanks to a speech Miles gives portraying his love for this grape – saw a twenty percent rise after the movie's release. On the flip side, Merlot, which Miles detests throughout the film, saw sales drop.

A Good Year (2006)

This movie was nowhere near as acclaimed as Sideways: some people might have a hard time saying A Good Year was a good movie. Still, it captured the essence of the wine industry from the inside out. Set in southeastern France, this movie features Max Skinner, a seemingly heartless investor who inherits a large vineyard from his uncle. Thanks to wine, women, and the weather, Max evolves from a sullen man into one who can appreciate the little, and big, things in life.

While A Good Year did not appear to have a direct impact on wine sales, it's fair to say that the scenery of Provence didn't hurt tourism. Filmed at Chateau La Canorgue during the 2005 harvest, the shots of the vineyards are truly enough to make anyone start searching for both their passport and their berets.

Falcon Crest (1981-1990)

Talk about grapes of wrath, this show was one of our best bets at ever seeing bottles of wine actually slap each other. Falcon Crest followed the lives of the Channings and the Giobertis, two feuding wine families who lived in the Tuscany Valley (a fictional town set up to resemble Napa Valley). Involving a lot of random death, love affairs, and even an evil neo-Nazi cartel, this was a series that did not keep the sensationalism corked.

Written specifically about the wine industry, Falcon Crest featured sets located on actual vineyards and showcased the lives of those working in wineries. It not only succeeded in bringing wine to the television screen, but it also aired for nine seasons and remains one of the most well known series of all time. Yet, in the grand tradition of soap operas, Falcon Crest did have one huge unrealistic downfall: anyone surrounded by so much wine, can't be that malicious. Seriously, just have another drink.

Mondovino (2004)

Unlike the other movies and shows listed, Mondovino is a documentary, a true tale revealing how mass globalization impacts the wine industry. Translated to mean "World of Wine," this film not only displays the influence that people like Robert Parker and Michel Rolland have on dictating what wine is and is not good, but it shows the struggles of both the small and large wineries in their voyage for the vine.

Written and directed by Jonathan Nossiter, a trained sommelier, Mondovino was well received by both critics and the general population. Nominated for a Golden Palm Award and Cesar Award, it was featured at a large number of notable film festivals. Leaving no grape leaf unturned, Mondovino involved travel to vineyards everywhere from California to France to Brazil.

Blood and Wine (1996)

Yeah, try not to get these two liquids mixed up. Blood and Wine is a movie entirely different from the others I've listed, which is why it gets a mention. For those who love sin and suspense, this movie shows that crime drama and wine do go together after all.

With a strong ensemble of Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Lopez, Stephen Dorff, and Micheal Caine, Blood and Wine tells the story of Alex Gates (Nicholson) who works as a wine merchant in Miami. After getting heavily into debt, and realizing he doesn't get along with his family, he becomes a theif. Things begin to further unravel when his wife gets involved.

There are many more wine-themed movies and shows available for viewing; these are just a few honorable mentions. In fact, there may be films about wine that we don't even know about yet. Until I watched the reruns, I had no idea Falcon Crest was about a vineyard; I thought it was about toothpaste.