October 17, 2011

Four years ago, the uniquely Pinot-friendly climate of Santa BarbaraCounty seemed better known to starlings and mule deer than winedrinkers. And then the Oscar-winning movie Sideways turned thecentral-California appellation into the Cabbage Patch doll of the wineworld. The public demand for Santa Barbara Pinot Noir was suddenly andseemingly insatiable: Winery mailing lists filled up, and localrestaurants like the Hitching Post II became crowded with touriststraipsing after the film's raffish stars.

Even more remarkably, PinotNoir sales nationwide jumped 45 percent over the next year as winedrinkers developed a hankering for the grape rhapsodized in the filmas "the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling andancient on the planet." Of course, the groundwork for many of thesechanges was laid long before AS SEEN IN SIDEWAYS signs were postedaround the country. A number of important new wineries were in theworks around the time that Sideways debuted—among them Alma Rosa andJonata—and the amount of acreage under vine was at a record high.Indeed, the growth of the $500 million Santa Barbara County wineindustry has much more to do with three decades of hard work than itdoes with the success of a popular Hollywood film.

Recommended bottles

  • 2005 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier
  • 2006 Qupé Bien Nacido Cuvée Santa Maria Valley
  • 2004 Gainey Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Merlot
  • 2005 Cambria Bench Break Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2005 Sanford Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

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