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The big screen: Top ten wine movies

Published:  02 September, 2016

It's Friday, which means it's time for some light entertainment.

If you're stuck for a choice of movie this weekend, why not look up one of the following on Netflix or Amazon - preferably with a glass of wine in hand.

In no particular order, here is our top ten list of films about wine.

1. Bottle Shock (2008)

The Judgment of Paris sent shockwaves through the industry in 1976, when a wine from the Stag's Leap sub-appellation of Napa defeated a French wine in a blind taste test.

The story received international attention in the press and was made into a feature-length film in 2008 with now deceased Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier, the British wine merchant who organised the competition.

Bottle ShockBottle Shock

2. Sideways (2004)

A must see for any film buff and wine fan, Sideways charmed audiences with its irreverent depiction of two men in their forties who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara Country wine county for one of their upcoming weddings.

Infidelity ensues, with stand-out comedic moments from Paul Giamitti's character - a depressed teacher and borderline alcoholic - and a past-his-prime actor, played by Thomas Haden Church.

Viticulture features heavily in the film, making it a surprise hit with wine-lovers as well as the general public.

Santa Ynez Valley, where much of the film is set, attracted increased tourism in the wake of the film which became an international success.

3. A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

A young Keanu Reeves stars in this film about serendipity and romance, set against the backdrop of California circa 1945.

A beautifully shot if not idealised look at life in a 1940s Napa vineyard.

4. A Good Year (2006)

This Ridley Scott film features an all-star cast with performances from Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard and Albert Finney.

It follows the struggles of Max (Crowe), who inherits a Provence wine estate from his uncle and must deal with the gruff winemaker, who fears being separated from his vines, and the unexpected arrival of a young Napa Valley oenophile, who turns out to be his uncle's illegitimate daughter.

A Good YearA Good Year

5. At Sachem Farm (1998)

The film follows Ross, a self-absorbed and determined young man, who plans to sell off his family's priceless wine collection to finance his purchase of a substantial mining interest which promises to make him rich.

However, standing in his way is his eccentric Uncle Cullen, who has other plans for the family estate.

6. The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

Stanley Kramer, the director of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, returned to the big screen two years later with this intriguing adaptation from the novel of the same name.

Set against the aftermath of the fall of Benito Mussolini, the film follows the attempts of the townspeople in the winemaking hill town of Santa Vittoria, to hide one million bottles of wine from invading German soldiers.

7. This Earth Is Mine (1959 film)

This American drama starred Rock Hudson and Jean Simmons. The film portrays the lives and loves of the Rambeau family, a California winemaking dynasty trying to survive during Prohibition in the United States.

This Earth Is MineThis Earth Is Mine

8. Year of the Comet (1992)

Year of the Comet is a 1990s romantic comedy adventure film about the pursuit of the most valuable bottle of wine in history.

The title refers to the year the wine was bottled, 1811, which was known for the Great Comet of 1811, and also as one of the best years in history for European wine.

It stars Tim Daly, Penelope Ann Miller and Louis Jourdan in his last role role prior to his retirement from acting.

9. Vagabond (1985)

French-language film Vagabond tells the haunting story of a young woman who drops out of her stable job in Paris and wanders through French wine country one winter.

Along the way, she meets other vagabons such as a Tunisian vineyard worker.

Although the film isn't easy watching, it was the 36th highest-grossing film of the year domestically with a total of 1,080,143 admissions in France.


10. Jean de Florette (1986)

This might be a controversial entry, as the tragic hero and protagonist Jean Cadoret, aka Jean de Florette, is not a wine producer.

However, the film is set in the heart of Provenance shortly after the First World War, and the story of a man determined to live off the land gives an in depth look into some of the challenges that winemakers at the time would have come up against.

Besides, it is widely considered to be a cinematic masterpiece, and few can hope but to sympathise for Gerard Depardieu's Jean, who perseveres even when it seems god and man are against him.

Check back next Friday for our list of top ten wine documentaries.