Feb 12, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO — As the Oscars draw near, wine and film lovers can pair their favorite passions in California wine country. With Oscar parties and film festivals, Wine Institute invites you to see the films and experience California wine regions' Hollywood connections this awards season and visit locations where some famous movies were shot! View upcoming film-related events at discovercaliforniawines.com.
Oscar Parties and Film Festivals in Wine Country
Napa Valley hosts its 26th Annual Napa Valley Academy Awards® Telecast Viewing Party on Sunday, March 2, beginning at 5 p.m. in downtown Napa. More than 20 of valley's finest restaurants will pair tasty treats with wines from local vintners.
You can also gear up for the Oscars on March 1 at The World of Pinot Noir "Hollywood & Wine Seminar" in Santa Barbara. This blind tasting pits the favorites of wine experts and winemakers in the film "Sideways" against the 2012 documentary "Somm," a movie which focuses on the exciting and challenging world of passing the Master Sommelier Exam. Sunset magazine wine editor Sara Schneider will lead a discussion on what these two movies tell us about the position and power of wine in our culture.
The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival takes place March 5-9 in San Luis Obispo wine country, on California's Central Coast following Oscar weekend. Recently dubbed by MovieMaker magazine as "one of the best film events in the country," the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Film fans visiting the Golden State this spring can check out the Sonoma International Film Festival April 2-6, 2014, now in its 17th year. This five-day event offers wines from Sonoma vintners and cuisine from local artisans, and celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams have walked the festival red carpet. Further north is the Mendocino Film Festival, May 29-June 1, 2014 with a film screening at The Madrones center along with open houses at local wineries offering new release tastings and food pairings.
Or plan ahead for the next Napa Valley Film Festival Nov 12-16, 2014, which boasts tastes from 150 local wineries or the Santa Barbara International Film Festival which just wrapped up for this year but has its 30th annual event Jan. 22-Feb. 1, 2015.
California Wine Country Movie Locations
When you think of wine and movies, the first one that probably pops into your mind is "Sideways," which made Pinot Noir a main character. Its 2005 Oscar success has inspired wine lovers from around the world to visit Santa Barbara County's wine regions. Use the Sideways Wine Tour Map to follow the path forged by Miles and Jack in this beloved movie.
Napa Valley plays the starring role in the 2008 film "Bottle Shock," which shows how, in 1976, underdog wine region California triumphed against wine world Goliath France in the historic "Judgment of Paris" blind tasting. Shot in many locations across Napa Valley and Sonoma County, the film focuses mainly on Chateau Montelena, whose Chardonnay caused a global shockwave. Take a "Bottle Behind the Scenes Tour" at Chateau Montelena, where you can taste and visit winery scene locations, discuss movie fact versus fiction, learn about the actors, and hear stories from the set.
While on your cinematic vacation in Napa Valley, check out Staglin Family Vineyard in Rutherford, where portions of "The Parent Trap" were filmed. Other nearby wineries take the spotlight in "A Walk in the Clouds," such as St. Helena's Beringer Vineyards and Duckhorn Vineyards.
Francis Ford Coppola shot vistas throughout Napa Valley for "Apocalypse Now," but he keeps vast movie memorabilia from that and other films at his renowned Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County. Sip a glass of wine as you marvel at Don Corleone's desk from "The Godfather," the original car used in "Tucker: The Man and His Dream," and even a few shiny gold men named Oscar. You can also check out Academy-Award winning costumes from "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and the Neon Cocktail glass and bar from movie-musical "One from the Heart."
Sonoma County also caught the eye of another legendary director, Alfred Hitchcock, who turned the rugged coastal town of Bodega Bay into a character in "The Birds" more than 50 years ago. Starring Tippi Hedren, the film is set in this quirky community, which features the Tides Wharf restaurant, where you can still today grab a bite of fresh seafood and local wines, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. While in town, stop at the "Birds" themed visitor center before heading to the nearby town of Bodega, where you can visit film sites such as the Potter School and St. Theresa's Church.
George Lucas's birthplace, Modesto, was the inspiration for the film "American Graffiti" and the town hosts everything from "American Graffiti" themed street fairs to classic car parades, concerts and showings throughout June. Modesto is just about a half-hour's drive from the Lodi wine region where a perfect one-stop shop is the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, which pours a wide selection of regional wines and features handcrafted products and Lodi giftware.
Over in the Central Coast wine region, Monterey County has hosted major films, such as Hitchcock's "Vertigo," filmed at popular spots such as Carmel Beach and Cypress Point on Pebble Beach's famous 17-Mile Drive. Old Mission San Juan Bautista plays a leading role in this mind-bending mystery as well as in California history. After driving along this scenic byway, stop in the town of Carmel for dining, shopping and gallery hopping—you might spot former mayor Clint Eastwood, who filmed scenes of his 1971 hit "Play Misty for Me" in Monterey and Big Sur.
Heading south in San Luis Obispo County is a bastion of Old Hollywood glamour, Hearst Castle, where newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst hosted infamous parties with award-winning actors from Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford and Errol Flynn to Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant and Carole Lombard. The 1960 classic "Spartacus" was filmed at the outdoor pool. Although no filming was done there for the 1941 masterpiece "Citizen Kane," Hearst Castle is widely known as the inspiration for the "Xanadu" mansion in the film, which is loosely based on William Randolph Hearst's career.
Most Southern California visitors would never guess that celebrity-studded Malibu is home to a hidden gem wine region. While exploring the beach town or tasting wines at local Malibu wineries, you might just bump into one of the dozens of movie stars who live there.
For more information on California wines, wine regions and winery activities visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com.
About Wine Institute
Wine Institute is the association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses dedicated to enhancing the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. California is the fourth largest wine producer in the world, making 90 percent of all U.S. wine and three out of every five bottles enjoyed in the U.S. Each year, 21 million tourists visit wine regions throughout the state to explore and enjoy the wines, cuisine and cultural offerings associated with California's signature industry. Go to: www.discovercaliforniawines.com for more information.
(Editors: photos available upon request)