Most theaters won’t let you sip wine during the movie, but catching reruns at home can solve that problem (and many others if you ask me – I’m not a big fan of movie theaters). And what better movies for pairing with a favorite bottle of wine than a film with wine in a starring role? Wine movies!
Drama, comedy, documentary, real story or fiction, many wine movies are produced every year and most of them are featured in various film festivals from all over the world. Some take place in Sonoma, Napa, Paso, and in Carcassonne (a historical city located in the south of France). They ultimately make it to your home for you to enjoy with a glass of wine.
But enough jabber and more movies!
This is a British silent comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker and Jean Bradin. The screenplay was based on an original story by writer and critic Walter C. Mycroft. The film is about a young woman, a spoiled heiress who defies her father by running off to marry her lover. But Daddy has a few tricks up his sleeve. To bring her back down to earth he tells her that all the money has been lost so she goes to seek her fortune.
A rich girl and her protective father, a gold digger boyfriend, a mysterious man, a fantastic director and of course, Champagne. This movie has it all!
A notorious woman of affairs (Ingrid Bergman) and an adventurous man of the world (Cary Grant) meet and fall in love recklessly and daringly. The main plot of the movies doesn’t have anything to do with wine but tense and suspenseful kissing scenes take place in a wine cellar … all of this directed by none other than master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.
Following the conviction of her German father for treason against the U.S., Alicia Huberman is approached by a government agent (T.R. Devlin) who asks her to spy on a group of her father’s Nazi friends operating out of Rio de Janeiro. A romance develops between Alicia and Devlin, but Alicia concludes that he was merely pretending to love her as part of his job.
Elizabeth (Jean Simmons), an English cousin of the Rambeau family, arrives in California in 1931 for a casual visit with her aunt and uncle, only to find her future pre-determined with a pre-arranged marriage to Andre Swann, a young cousin of another branch of the family. Another cousin, John Rambeau (Rock Hudson), disagrees with those plans, informs Elizabeth that she’s being married off to consolidate the family’s wine holdings, hints at other dark secrets of the Rambeau family, and casually romances her. Elizabeth is conflicted over the entire series of events.
The patriarch of the family, Phillipe (Claude Rains), wanting to keep the winemaking heritage of his family pure, refuses to deal with bootleggers eager for a ready-made supply of alcohol. John, however, is not so righteous, and arranges deals with Chicago gangsters for the valley’s wine supply. Violence, gunplay, and wildfires ensue.
This is arguably one of the most dramatic wine movies of the seventh art. The Days Of Wine And Roses movie is the story of an alcoholic man who falls in love with and gets married to a young woman, whom he systematically addicts to booze so they can share his “passion” together. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick star in this classic wine movie, bare-knuckled drama of a loving family torn apart by alcoholism.
• “Il Secreto Di Santa Vittoria” (The Secret Of Santa Vittoria)
1969 / Comedy / Drama / War / 2h19min
Bombolini is a fairly worthless drunk in the small Italian town of Santa Vittoria in the closing days of World War II. When word comes that the Fascist government has surrendered, he climbs a water tower to tear down the flag. He can’t get down and someone gets the crowd to chant his name to give him confidence. The Fascist town council hears this and believes that he is the town’s new leader. They surrender to him and make him the new mayor. He rises to the occasion and when he finds that the Germans plan to occupy his town and take their wine (over a million bottles) he works out a plan to hide it.
• “The Muppet Movie”
1979 / Adventure / Comedy / Family / 1h35min
Kermit and his new found friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog-legs merchant is after Kermit. No, this isn’t a movie about wine, but Steve Martin’s short cameo as a waiter/sommelier puts this kids’ film on the list.
Kermit the Frog orders a bottle of Champagne when out to dinner with Miss Piggy, which turns out to be sparkling Muscatel from Idaho that Martin “uncorks” with a beer opener.
Kermit is about to sip some when Miss Piggy reminds him that the expert is supposed to taste it first. Martin takes a sip, spits it out in a rush before composing his face into a smile and recommending the fizz as: “An excellent choice.”
• “Year Of The Comet”
1992 / Action / Adventure / Romance / 1h31min
An extremely rare bottle of wine is discovered. The magnum size bottle quickly became the most valuable bottle of wine in history. The title refers to the year it 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.
Margaret Harwood is sent to retrieve the precious wine so it can be sold at auction. Oliver Plexico is assigned as her travel guide/bodyguard for the trip. However, other people who believe the wine contains the secret to a rejuvenation formula desperately want the bottle and will stop at nothing to get it. The bottle changes hands several times as the parties race across Europe. A simple little trip becomes an international chase.
A woman (Meg Ryan) flies to France to confront her straying fiancé, but gets into trouble when the charming crook (Kevin Kline) seated next to her uses her for smuggling a stolen necklace and a grapevine.
This romantic comedy directed by Lawrence Kasdan is not directly related to wine but has as a backdrop of some French vineyards, as Kevin Kline plays the prodigal son of a French family of vineyard owners. His character knows a lot about French wine and is very convincing as a Frenchman, right down to the Gallic gestures. They both travel to Cannes together and begin having feelings for each other.
• “A Walk In The Clouds”
1995 / Drama / Romance / 1h42min
After returning from the war (World War II), Paul (Keanu Reeves) and a young woman meet on a bus as she’s headed home from college to help with the grape harvest and face her Old World domineering dad. The woman has not married but is pregnant and she thinks her father is going to kill her. Paul proposes to pose as her husband to help her face her father. During his stay at the family vineyard, they fall in love and face the angry rejection of her father together. When their passion for each other is finally ignited and explodes, they realize they must overcome all odds to be together.
A Walk On The Clouds was filmed on location among the wineries of Napa Valley and in the towns of Napa, St. Helena, and Sonoma.
Mondovino is a 2004 documentary film on the impact of globalization on the world’s different wine regions written and directed by American filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and a César Award.
The film explores the impact of globalization on the various wine-producing regions, and the influence of critics like Robert Parker and consultants like Michel Rolland in defining an international style. It pits the ambitions of large, multinational wine producers, in particular Robert Mondavi, against the small, single estate wineries who have traditionally boasted wines with individual character driven by their terroir. Winemakers worldwide, many using Rolland as a consultant, pursue this structure, color, and taste – to the detriment, argue some, of wine that should reflect the character of the land where the grape is grown.
The film gave Nossiter a chance to utilize his knowledge as a trained sommelier from his time working at Balthazar in New York as well as an opportunity to visit some of the great wine regions of the world.
2004 / Comedy / Drama / Romance / 2h06min
Miles is a failed writer living a meager existence in San Diego as an English teacher. With his career seemingly fading and the fate of a book hinging on a publisher’s decision, Miles is depressed with himself and what he hasn’t achieved. Jack is a television actor whom some recognize but not many do, as if he were a minor actor who got a taste of success. With his best friend Miles, the two embark on a road trip through California’s wine country. Miles wants to give his friend a nice sendoff before married life, while Jack simply wants to have a fling beforehand. As they’re both nearing middle age with not much to show for it, the two will explore the vineyards while ultimately searching for their identities.
• “A Good Year”
2006 / Comedy / Drama / Romance / 1h57min
A Good Year is a 2006 British romantic comedy-drama film, set in London and Provence. Max Skinner (Russell Crowe), an unethical, aggressive, hard-working London-based investment trader inherits his uncle’s château and vineyard in Provence in southeastern France, where he spent much of his childhood. He travels to Provence to prepare a quick sale, only to discover a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold. In addition to flirting with the local café owner (Marion Cotillard), Max must deal with a gruff, dedicated winemaker, who fears being separated from his precious vines.
No grapes, no barrels and no money – just a dream to make a little wine. That’s all Rob DaFoe had on his side with harvest just around the corner. This is a story of transformation, not only of grapes, but of those who turn them into wine.
The documentary film uses footage of DaFoe’s winemaking journey with commentary from both up-and-coming and veteran winemakers including Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clenenden and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ Warren Winiarski. DaFoe has no wine experience but he tries to make two barrels of his own Syrah. It was filmed on a small budget in and around the Santa Ynez Valley. The film has been well received in both wine and film circles and was an official selection of the 2006 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. This
2009 / Documentary & Comedy / 1h30min
Corked is a “mockumentary” and a hilarious tale about four different wineries in California and how their fate intertwines as a famous celebrity wine critic is visiting the area. The movie focuses on a billionaire, eccentric rich kid attempting to make his mark in his father’s newly acquired vineyard, and “two marketing” executives determined to tap into new markets with an edgy high-concept label, while trying to get the wine critic’s undying attention. We follow this group through the toils of harvest, and their quest for recognition leading to the Golden Harvest Gala!
• “Bottle Shock”
2009 / Comedy / Drama / 1h50min
This is one of my favorite wine movies in the comedy and dram categories. The story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as “Judgment of Paris”.
Sommelier and wine shop owner Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a British expatriate living in Paris, is concerned how to save his business in his daily conversation with Maurice (Dennis Farina), a wine lover from Milwaukee who is Spurrier’s regular (sometimes only) customer. He concocts a plan to hold a blind taste-test intended to introduce Parisians to the quality wines coming from elsewhere in the world.
Spurrier travels to the not-yet-famous Napa Valley in search of contestants for his Judgment of Paris taste test, where a chance meeting introduces him to floundering vintner Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) of Chateau Montelena. Barrett wants no part in the competition, believing it to be a set-up designed by the French to humiliate New World wine producers. Barrett’s son, Bo (Chris Pine), secretly passes Spurrier a couple of bottles of the Chateau’s chardonnay for the competition.
A Heavenly Vintage is a film directed and co-written by New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro. Originally titled “The Vintner’s Luck”, it is loosely based on the novel “The Vintner’s Luck” by New Zealander Elizabeth Knox.
The passionate tale of Sobran Jodeau (Jérémie Renier), an ambitious young peasant winemaker and the three loves of his life – his beautiful wife Celeste (Keisha Castle-Hughes), the proudly intellectual baroness Aurora de Valday (Vera Farmiga) and Xas (Gaspard Ulliel), an angel who strikes up an unlikely but enduring friendship that borders on eroticism with him. Under his guidance Sobran is forced to fathom the nature of love and belief and in the process grapples with the sensual, the sacred and the profane – in pursuit of the perfect vintage.
The film was shot in New Zealand, Belgium, and France – including in the medieval castle of Berzé.
• “Blood Into Wine”
2010 / Documentary / 1h40min
Welcome to the heavy meta-experience of Blood Into Wine. Uncork your favorite bottle and join award-winning filmmakers Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke as they present the film audiences and critics from around the world are raving about.
Like a rock ‘n roll version of Sideways, Blood Into Wine is the hypnotic, enthralling, and downright revolutionary documentary about multi-platinum musician Maynard James Keenan and his winemaking mentor Eric Glomski as they battle the elements and naysayers to make world class wine in the hostile deserts of Arizona.
Produced by Silverthorn Films of Charlottesville, Virginia, Vintage examines the factors that make Virginia unique amongst the wine producing regions of the United States and explores why two hundred years after Thomas Jefferson’s attempts to cultivate grapes at Monticello the region is flourishing as a producer of quality wines.
Filmed and presented in high definition, the narrative of the film is comprised of two intertwining storylines – the tale of the wine industry’s rise from humble beginnings and the creation of the state’s 2008 vintage. Vintage is an observational style documentary with the players and places of the Monticello Wine Region in Central Virginia serving as its main characters.
• “Tu seras Mon Fils” (You Will Be My Son)
2011 / Drama / 1h42min
A story that focuses on the problematic relationship between Paul Marseul, owner of a prestigious vineyard in Saint Emilion and his son, Martin, who works with him on the family’s estate. Paul is a demanding and passionate winemaker but is a domineering father. He is not happy that his son may one day succeed him. He dreams of a son who is more talented, more charismatic… and more in line with his own aspirations. The arrival of his trusted manager’s son Philippe from California, also in the wine business, changes the entire dynamic. Paul sees Philippe as his ideal son and turns away from his own flesh and blood.
• “No Wine Left Behind”
2011 / Documentary / 15min
When Marine Sergeant Josh Laine returned from ﬁghting in Iraq to his native Livermore, CA, he couldn’t ﬁnd a job anywhere. When a girlfriend got him into wine, he decided to take a crack at winemaking and with the help of the other Marines that he served with, Lavish Laines Winery was born. The winery has since become a place where returning veterans can ﬁnd a job, camaraderie, and a sense of purpose. The ﬁlm follows Josh and his fellow vets as they try to take the winery from a garage start-up to a fully-ﬂedged operation and, in the process, explores the challenges vets face in transitioning back to civilian life.
• “Le Sang De La Vigne” (The Vineyard’s Blood)
2011 / Drama / Fiction / 1h30min
Le Sang De La Vigne is a crime drama television series, that premiered on France Television.
Thanks to the undeniable charm and extraordinary talent of French actor Pierre Arditi who plays the role of a fine oenologist and estate owner, the series quickly became a hit, and has the distinction of being one of the network’s most-watched shows. It takes place at some of the most acclaimed AOC (AVA) of France and depicts a world of wine that isn’t always as pretty as we think it is. With all the financial turmoils, family rivalries, secret love affairs (Ooh la la!) and backstabbing machinations, one could say this is the French version of American prime time television soap opera “Dallas” – the difference, of course, is the backdrop being vineyards instead of oilfields. ; )
• “Boom Varietal”
2011 / Documentary / 1h12min
Argentine Malbec is currently the fastest growing wine varietal in the United States. Originally from the Cahors region of France, Malbec never gained the acceptance that it has achieved in Argentina. Thirsty Italian immigrants arriving in Argentina at the turn of the 20th century, widely planted Malbec cuttings all along the Andean foothills in Mendoza. In this high, dry climate, Malbec found its perfect terroir.
Originally producing inexpensive and bland blends to satisfy the huge demand of the population, the Argentines later developed “boutique”, “export quality”, “new world”, “single varietal” wines. This movement, combined with an export driven economy, has caused Malbec to boom. US consumers now seem to be enamored with the varietal, but will the boom last?
2012 / Documentary / 1h34min
Somm is the story of four sommeliers attempting to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. The exam literally covers anything having to do with the entire world of wine and that is just the beginning.
Access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam… until now. How much do you know about wine?
• “A Year In Burgundy”
2013 / Documentary / 1h31min
The film follows seven wine-making families in the Burgundy region of France through the course of a full year, and delves into the cultural and creative process of making wine, as well as its deep ties to the land. What lies within the rhythm of a year, from vines to grapes to wine?
The film is in four season sections, and plays out against spring showers, drought, heat wave, hail and storms, harvest moons and the damp cold of winter. Each vintage is a time capsule, a bottled piece of history of a very specific year, with its particular weather pattern, its crises and its triumphs. It all goes in, whether you want it to or not – 2011 was full of drama.
• “Pierre Rabhi – An Nom De La Terre”
2013 / Documentary / 1h38min
This isn’t a wine movie, but it talks about a new farming model in which earth would benefit greatly. I value and respect people who try to make a difference and this movie is a wonderful exemple.
Pierre Rabhi is a farmer, writer and a philosopher. He is one of the first few pioneers of agroecosystems in France. Pierre has been involved in Men and Nature’s Service for the past 40 years. It is with love and dedication for planet Earth that he is calling upon everyone’s awareness of conscience to build a new model of society, in which overconsumption and modern civilization’s depression and discomfort would be replaced with simple and frugal happiness.
• “Red Obsession”
2013 / Documentary / 1h15min
A new documentary film by Warwick Ross & David Roach premiered in the Berlin Film Festival on February 14th 2013.
The film, narrated by Russell Crowe and featuring major players in the wine world brings new insight into the extraordinary consequences of China taking the Wine market by storm – as consumers, buyers AND producers. The filmmakers take us on an inside journey from the most renowned ‘Châteaux’ of the Bordeaux region to Hong Kong, Beijing and the Chinese countryside, exploring the connection between the best wines in the world and the economic upheavals affecting both East and West.
SEE ALSO: Chinese Wine – A Red Obsession
This comedy takes its title from the Latin proverb, which literally translated: “in wine, the truth” suggests that people reveal their truest feelings under the influence of alcohol.
On Halloween night, the lives of two suburban couples unravel forever under the influence of a Peruvian wine brewed from the toxic skin of blue dart tree frogs. This tribal elixir effectively reduces all inhibitions to nothing, and soon friendships and relationships are revealed to be not quite what they seemed. By turns brutally funny, wickedly honest, and unashamedly human, the film explodes personal and cultural taboos and lays bare the horror and beauty beneath our carefully composed public personas. Imagine a bobsled ride down Mt. Everest… on a moonless night… during a blizzard. That is the essence of “Vino Veritas.” Just hang on, and hope for the best.
There are plenty of obsessions in the world, but few endeavors attract as much devotion as wine. American Wine Story is a documentary about oenological aficionados who have taken their obsessions to the extreme, chasing their dreams with a bottle in one hand and a corkscrew in the other.
Directed by David Baker and made by Three Crows Productions in Oregon, the 81-minute film blends the stories of a dozen winemakers around the country who took the risk to shed their old lives and devote themselves to wine. It continuously raises the question: ”If you finally discovered your true calling, would you have the courage to start over?”
Vintage is a feature film project currently in development. Vintage tells the story of washed-up food and wine critic Bruno Tannenbaum and his last attempt to make the bestseller list. This is a narrative feature developed as a follow-up to the documentary “Vino Veritas – An American Wine Story”.
The goal is to make a classic and completely original food and wine movie. The production company is now seeking funding and production partners.
• “Natural Resistance”
2014 / Documentary / 1h25min
Exactly 10 years after “Mondovino”, Jonathan Nossiter aims his cameras at the world of wine again with “Natural Resistance”. The movie is shot in Italy and gives winemakers a chance to talk about the world of winemaking. Sometimes dismissed from their appellation (equivalent of AVA in the U.S.), threatened and fined by the department of agriculture, those tenacious winemakers continue to produce an artisanal wine, authentic and natural – without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, or synthesized chemicals – proudly resisting with a sense of freedom that goes much farther than the realm of wine.
The wine is not the premise of the movie, but rather a location, a conveyer, a player, a pretext for discussing the relationship between agriculture and culture. Nassiter said: “Italian rebel winemakers are starting a movement on the most crucial ecological questions of our era. What good is an environmental ecology without a cultural ecology? One without the other makes no sense, and both are threatened.”
In its rough form, reminiscent of a reality TV show, the movie evokes a rare freedom : the artisan against industrial domination. No special effects or technical movie mastery; Nassiter deliberately chose to produce an “artisanal” movie and underline the message with sensitivity and ethic rather than norm and elegance.
The history, politics, pleasure, and BS of wine told through opening ten very different bottles. This documentary is really ten wine stories… Or chapters, all about wine. There are interviews with sommeliers, wine professionals and winemakers that are informative, humorous and engaging. You don’t have to have seen SOMM to watch Into The Bottle, but it is helpful.
If learning about the basics of wine is something that interests you, I recommend watching Into The Bottle. It doesn’t get overly heavy-handed or too technical. There is a lot of compelling and interesting info, and it can be fun at a party when you pop open a bottle, pour some wine in a glass and nonchalantly say that 2007 was a banner year for wine.
Vineyards, family and everything that gets us closer to the soil and our roots… A beautiful life metaphor directed by Cédric Klapisch. This is a story about two brothers and one sister taking over the family owned winery after their father’s death.
It took an entire year to shoot the movie. Cédric Klapisch wanted to capture the various states of the vineyards across the all 4 seasons. Cédric said during an interview “I made this movie because I like wine… I like everything about wine. It’s crazy how much wine has to offer. It’s a subject that allows us to talk about modernisation as well, not just tradition.
Do you know what’s better than a good song? A good song that talks about wine!