13-03-2013 ~ 2 Comments

Napa Valley after journalism


An article came out in Spain’s El País newspaper on Sunday which is now available to read online. The title is “Napa después de ‘Entre copas’” which in English is “Napa after Sideways” given that for some reason the film, “Sideways” was translated to “Between glasses” in the Spanish release of the film.

El País is a widely-read, well-respected publication in Spain and this journalist, Toni García was apparently invited to Napa Valley by the tourism authority to write this article. That’s all well and good except that it appears Mr. García went there with this idea stuck in his head of “How is Napa Valley doing after this film?” and wouldn’t budge from the premise no matter how many facts got in his way. This is ridiculous given that Sideways took place in fucking Santa Barbara, not Napa Valley. Santa Ynez Valley, to be specific.

“Oh, but surely they’re neighboring regions and it’s an easy mistake”, I could see the uninformed average Spaniard stating. No, they’re most definitely not. They’re 600km from each other. To put that in to perspective Rioja and Bordeaux are 400km from one another. And there is no mistake about this in the film, as it’s stated many times. The smallest bit of attention, or a simple visit to the 21st century journalist favorite source – Wikipedia – would reveal this shocking fact. Again, a simple visit to Wikipedia or a map online would also show that there is another, huge wine region between Napa Valley and Santa Barbara — Paso Robles.

Mr. García’s article also tried to posit that Merlot was somehow hurt by the famous, “I’m NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!” tirade by the Miles character. This also was actually not the case and Merlot sales weren’t hurt. Yes, Pinot Noir sales increased but Merlot remains the second most popular grape in the US.

The closing of this article is also quite precious:

Un territorio en el que la venta de vino generó cuatro millones de beneficio en 2012. Probablemente una parte de ellos gracias a Entre copas, aunque los locales prefirieran glosar las excelencias de Bottle shock, filme de 2008 sobre Steven Spurrier al que encarna el siempre brillante Alan Rickman que se centra en el concurso de 1976.

Mr. García is trying to infer that some of the winemakers in Napa Valley are probably quietly thankful for this film as it was good for business although they prefer Bottleshock from 2008. Again, we find the author trying to push his brilliant “thesis” that Sideways had some effect on Napa when in fact Napa could give a damn about Sideways because IT WAS SET IN SANTA BARBARA 600km TO THE SOUTH OF NAPA. Santa Barbara winemakers on the other hand received a great deal more attention, obviously. The Bottleshock mention is an issue of its own as it was a film so factually inaccurate and Hollywoodified that it shows no semblance of truth to what actually happened in that fateful year of 1976. Steven Spurrier, the famous wine critic depicted in the film, went as far as saying “There is hardly a word that is true in the script and many, many pure inventions as far as I am concerned”. It seems Mr. García wasn’t listening to the winemakers as they will all tell you this.

It is often discussed these days that there is a crisis in journalism and it has to do with lack of funding for publications. This recent article would show that it’s due more to the journalists (and editors!) who still are employed not giving a shit to get facts straight and instead pulling them out of their asses. I look forward to Toni García’s future articles which will probably include “Czech wines after the collapse of Yugoslavia”, “Mendoza rising to the top after the fall of apartheid”, and my personal favorite, “Finger Lakes wines gaining quality following the Battle of Gettysburg”. He’s going places this one.

Oh, and the town in Napa Valley, Calistoga is spelled with one L.