red vines?


Of course I am going to see this movie.  Let’s get that out of the way first.  I mean… probably.  I try to work my way through most wine-dramas that appear on screen–although gross fluff-fests like this one generally struggle in my box-office queue.  I still haven’t seen INTO THE BOTTLE.

But a few things jump out at me quickly on this one.

First of all, congratulations on the lower-case title.  So fresh.

Obviously, these things are designed to sell wine, and most of them do it by glorifying a farming- and manufacturing-process which has very little glamour in it–large portions of which are performed by people you wouldn’t invite to your house and usually headed up by someone with a fat checkbook and little knowledge of wine.  These wines are basically candy, and nearly all have contributed heavily to the homogenization of the *Napa Valley* taste profile and its perception in the market-place.

To the best of my knowledge, all these people consult.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s an important part of every winemaker’s income.  But they make wine.  Of course they make, wine–they’re winemakers, right?  But see the word you’re glossing over there is ‘make’.  These people MAKE wine.  Say that again, slowly, and put a big pause between “make” and “wine”.  These people MAKE…… wine.  See how that changes your perception of winemaking?

Where do you think all of the thousands of oenology graduates Davis and CalPoly and Fresno crank out every year with 4 years of plant biology and chemistry and agri-business go?  You think they all go to hike up their skirts and squish the pretty little grapes between their pretty little toes in a wine-barrel cut in half far back on Momma & Papa Italian Immigrant’s ranch in between hoeing and pruning the idyllic mountain-side grapevines with a happy golden retriever alongside?  No!  That’s NOT where they go.  They go to a LAB.  Where they MAKE (long pause) wine.

Unfortunately, the former scenario is what 99% of the general wine-consuming American population lap up.  And, this is why wine-bloggers who re-tell *The Story* in glowing terms over and over are so popular.  Because you can’t sell wine without The Story.  And movies just tell The Story in Dolby Surround.

I am also intrigued whenever a writer or movie-maker or anyone forming a dialogue attempt to create what I call ‘vintage-drama’ in what is THE period MOST period PERFECT period PLACE period TO GROW GRAPES period IN THE WORLD.  I just love listening to Napa Valley complain about the weather.  Especially when that dialogue is being promoted to us through the medium of $250 screen-printed bottles of pancake syrup.

Finally, the age of these “wineries” being spotlighted for their tireless passion and hard work establishing the Napa Valley *brand* is glaring.  I mean, come’on!  I’ve DATED women older than Heidi Barrett.  Does anyone remember Diamond Creek? Chappellet? Silver Oak? Stag’s Leap? The Class of ’72?!?!  To put this in perspective, Opus One is an OLD WINERY compared to this group.  What are *The Classics* to these people, Whitehall Lane?  Peju Province?  Robert Sinskey?  As Dr. Malcolm said in Jurassic Park, “You stood on the backs of giants and now you’re: BAM! slapping it on a metal lunch-pail and BAM! selling it.”

Oh look!  There’s the obligatory helicopter over the vineyards.  Maybe it’s Melka’s.

Don’t forget the popcorn.

decanted the movie


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