September 24, 2019 – The cult classic, Sideways, turns 15 on October 22 the date when it first hit the theaters in 2004. And in the interest of never letting a reason to celebrate go to waste, the Santa Ynez Valley wine country is ready to welcome fans to Sideways Fest October 18 – 20.
The Sideways Fest is a part of the Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley festival, Oct. 17-20 — an inaugural four-day food, wine and experiential event set in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Solvang, and Santa Ynez — Sideways Fest will include a screening and a Sideways tour, in addition to the main wine and food festival.
Influence on Sales of Merlot and Pinot Noir
The film had an outsized influence on sales of Merlot and Pinot Noir. It followed the inebriated travels of Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) as they visited winery tasting rooms and involved Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh) in their less than honorable bachelor weekend.
There are many famous quotes in the movie that are instantly recognizable but perhaps the most famous was when Jack told the moody, bad tempered Miles as they were about to join the women for dinner: “If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.” To which Miles angrily responded: “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f***ing Merlot“.
Did I mention Merlot sales declined and Pinot Noir sales saw a surge? It’s true.
Internationally renowned wine region
Of course, some things in the Santa Ynez Valley have changed in the 15 years since the movie’s release. The valley has grown into an internationally renowned wine region, while still managing to keep many of its hidden gems in the process. Visitors can still spend the night in the motel in Buellton where Jack and Miles stayed throughout the movie, but it was recently renamed as the Sideways Inn and completely renovated.
Much remains the same, too. While the Santa Ynez Valley produces many great varietals, it is still best known for the distinctive and luxurious Pinot Noir that Miles so craved. And many of the film’s locations — AJ Spurs, Alma Rosa Winery, Andrew Murray Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery, Firestone Vineyard, Foxen Vineyard & Winery, Gaviota State Park, Hitching Post II, Kalyra Winery, Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant, Ostrichland USA, River Course at The Alisal, and Solvang Restaurants — are frequented by lovers of Sideways still today.
“To this day, it is not at all uncommon to overhear visitors at a restaurant, winery, or just walking down the street, repeating a famous line from the movie, or to strike up a conversation in a local tasting room about the movie’s influence on pop culture in general and particularly the Santa Ynez Valley,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley.
Sideways won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church), Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen) and Best Director. It won many other awards and nominations.
Get Reservations Here
The Santa Ynez Valley is a beautiful part of the country any time. Numerous tour companies offer guided tours to the various film locations throughout the valley or maps and information are available to those undertaking self-guided trips at https://www.visitsyv.com/ where reservations for Sideways Fest can be made.