In 1976, the year of the American bicentennial, the tall ships sailed from Europe to America and back again. But a

smaller event was, in its way, no less impressive. In a blind taste-testing held in France, the wines of California’s

Napa Valley defeated the best the French had to offer — and all the judges were French! A bottle of the winning

American vintage, it is said, now rests on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution.

 

“Bottle Shock” is a charming fictionalized version of the victory, “based,” as they love to say, “on a true story.” Shot i

n California like "Sideways" but set much closer to the earth, it tells the story of a struggling vineyard named Chateau Montelena, deeply in debt with three bank loans. It’s run by the hard-driving Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), who despairs

of his layabout, long-haired son Bo (Chris Pine).   By Roger Ebert

 

 

“Bottle Shock,”  takes us back to the days when men wore loud plaid suits and people who were serious

about wine sneered at the very mention of California. Sticking reasonably close to the historical record, the

director, Randall Miller (who wrote the screenplay with his wife, Jody Savin, and Ross Schwartz), reconstructs

a watershed moment in the wine world’s acceptance of the Golden State and, eventually, of many other non-

French viticulture regions.

In 1976, at a gathering near Paris, a panel of experts conducted

a blind tasting at which two California wines emerged victorious

over their more pedigreed French competitors. That tasting

provides the climax to “Bottle Shock,” and even if the potential

surprise of its outcome were not already spoiled by history, the

movie’s adherence to the clichés of the triumph-of-the-underdog

narrative would be enough to remove any doubt.

Alan Rickman

 

There are, indeed, at least two underdogs hungering for triumph. The first is Steven Spurrier, played by Alan Rickman, whose parched low voice and air of beleaguered pomposity are never unwelcome. Spurrier is a British wine dealer

 vainly seeking a way into the French oenological establishment. Well-trained and sensitive as his nose may be, it’s

always pressed against the glass.

 

The blind tasting is a stunt he cooks up with his friend Maurice (Dennis Farina), an expatriate from Milwaukee, whose rough manner and garish clothes belie a sophisticated palate.  At Maurice’s urging, Spurrier makes his way to Napa,

where Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a lapsed lawyer from San Francisco, fondles grapes, quotes Hemingway and tries

to transform his life of bourgeois normalcy into a Steinbeck novel. A perfectionist and something of a blowhard,

Jim takes to the boxing ring to settle arguments with his long-haired son, Bo (Chris Pine).

 

Bo, along with his pal Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), who is one of Jim’s employees, and Sam (Rachael Taylor), a

head-turning new intern at the vineyard, represents a new generation of irreverent countercultural wine connoisseur. 

NY Times

 

Brenda and Marc Lhormer for a number of years produced the Sonoma Valley Film

Festival, and are said to have built it into a top of the line event.  They are now venturing to create the Napa Valley Film Festival, debuting in 2011.  Brenda and Marc produced the

feature film “Bottle Shock”—a fictionalized retelling of the events surrounding the 1976

“Judgment of Paris,” when Napa Valley wine beat French vintages in a blind tasting, and

brought Napa Valley and California wines to the world's attention.  Brenda and March also

have several new film projects in development.  At the PDFF, they will stage a re-enactment

of the "Judgment of Paris", with Napa Valley and Paso Robles wines in competition.

 

 

BE A PART OF

JUDGMENT OF PASO

A competition between Paso Robles

Area wines and Napa Area wines

ALL FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS WILL

TASTE AND HAVE A JUDGE CARD

SEE MORE WINE FUN

Saturday Night

at

 Le Vigne Winery

5115 Buena Vista Dr.

 

Saturday Night

at

 Le Vigne Winery

5115 Buena Vista Dr.

 

 

SEE

BOTTLE SHOCK

WITH THE PRODUCERS

AND BE A PART OF

JUDGMENT OF PASO

 

ALL FESTIVAL PASS

HOLDERS WILL TASTE

AND HAVE A JUDGE CARD

 

Eliza Dushku

 

Steven Spurrier: Alan Rickman
Bo Barrett: Chris Pine
Jim Barrett: Bill Pullman
Sam: Rachael Taylor
Gustavo: Freddy Rodriguez
Maurice: Dennis Farina

 

 

 

 

NOV. 16th

BLIND TASTING

TO QUALIFY FOR THE

JUDGMENT AT PASO

LEVEL FOUR

1216 Park Street