Bottle Shock debuts at Sundance: The story of Château Montelena
‘Bottle Shock’ Waves Sent Through Wine Country
The 1976 Paris Tasting was a defining moment is the history of California Wine Country. The performance of Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay and Stags Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon brought California Wine to the world stage.
This David vs. Goliath story seems like it came out of a Hollywood studio rather than a wine competition. No one in the right mind thought that the California Wines stood a chance against the French. This kind of drama is fit for the silver screen.
Paved by the success of “Sideways,” “Bottle Shock” delivers the story of the 1976 Paris Tasting from the perspective of Chateau Montelena. To the delight of the wine world, “Bottle Shock” debuted at the 2008 Sundance film festival.
In his first feature, director and co-writer Randall Miller put together the story of father-son Jim and Bo Barrett, owners of Chateau Montelena, in their journey from unknown vintners to international stardom. The story also features an unknown Latino winemaker and a love interest that add drama to their epic journey.
Owner Jim Barrett, played by Bill Pullman, runs Chateau Montelena in search of the perfect Chardonnay. The story documents his struggle characteristic of the California Wine Industry during that time. Jim’s son Bo Barrett, played by Chris Pine, lives his life like he is on permanent holiday.
In France, Steven Spurrier, played by Alan Rickman, is a struggling wine shop owner. Spurrier’s only customer Maurice, notices that California Wines are starting to turn heads and suggests a competition. The contest was to pit the outright world leader in fine wine production against California, a region that was unproven on the international stage.
This set the scene for the ultimate showdown in Paris. The saga is played out with side plots and a love triangle in their journey to the wine competition. It’s about time that attention is brought to this story, it was a defining moment that made California Wine what it is today.