California’s Undiscovered Wine Country: The Inspiration for the movie Sideways
Come with us on an adventure, two decades in the making. In this class, we follow the footsteps of Miles and company into some of the greatest vineyards in California.
We’ll be exploring our top picks from Santa Barbara. We won’t be re-hashing the wineries featured in the movie. This class will be much more interesting than that. Instead, we will be delving into Santa Barbara’s top wine regions: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, and Happy Canyon.
The character Miles was wrong about a lot of things, but he wasn’t wrong about the potential of Santa Barbara’s wine regions. Nearly two decades after the movie and these wines are now world class. It’s time to explore some of the most glorious wines made in America today.
Previous Santa Barbara Tasting Sheets
1. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards 2014 Chenin Blanc (Santa Barbara)
2. Au Bon Climat 2013 “Nuits-Blanches au Bouge” Estate Bottled Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley)
1. Cambria Estate Winery 2012 “Julia’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley)
2. Melville 2013 Estate Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills)
1. Three Saints 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon)
1. Fess Parker 2012 “The Big Easy” Rhone Blend (Santa Barbara)
2. McPrice Myers Wine Co. 2011 Altas Vinas Red Blend (Santa Barbara)
1. Stolpman 2011 Estate Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley)
Miles on Pinot Noir
Uh, I don’t know, I don’t know. Um, it’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and . . . ancient on the planet.
From the movie Sideways.
The Sideways Effect
Since the film premiered in 2004, the Sideways Effect has become the subject of scientific studies. The film seems to have an outsized influence on consumer perception of Merlot and Pinot Noir. As of now, there are over 600 studies of the phenomenon. We’ve listed the conclusion from one such study from the Journal of Wine Economics.
Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 4, Issue 2, Winter 2009, Pages 219-232
The Sideways Effect: A Test for Changes in the Demand for Merlot and Pinot Noir Wines
Authors: Steven S. Cuellar, Dan Karnowsky and Frederick Acosta
This paper tests the so called Sideways effect. Specifically we investigate whether or not the movie Sideways had a significant effect on the consumption of Merlot, Pinot Noir
and overall wine consumption as represented by a control group of wines. Our results suggest that Sideways did have a small negative impact on the consumption of Merlot
while increasing the consumption of Pinot Noir. However, far from having a “devastating” affect, the positive impact on Pinot Noir appears greater than the negative impact on
Merlot. For example, while the sales of Merlot slow following the movie, sales of Pinot Noir increase significantly. Despite the changes in consumption, Pinot Noir still constitutes
roughly half the market share of Merlot. We observe a similar effect with respect to price. Following Sideways, the price of Merlot continues an already decreasing trend,
while the price of Pinot Noir reverses a decreasing trend and increases following the movie.
We also examined whether the effects of Sideways differed by price point. Our results show that the negative effects of the movie on Merlot were confined mostly to the lower
priced segment, under $10 per bottle, while at the higher price points, the movie may have had a positive impact or at least slowed the rate of decline. The effects on Pinot Noir, on
the other hand, were positive across all price points, with the largest impact being on the highest price point of $20-$40 per bottle.