Monday, July 20, 2009

Bottle Shock -- Napa Valley

I watched an interesting movie this weekend called Bottle Shock.
It's a great movie that was entered into the Sundance Film Festival
and has an all star cast despite not having a huge release. The movie
is based on the events leading up to a contest that put Napa Valley
on the map. It also recognized California wines as world class where
the French had dominated in the past. The event that changed
California's wine industry was a blind taste test held in Paris between
French and California wines where there was shock when it was
announced that California wines won over the French wines in both
the red and white categories. The event was written about in Time
magazine which subsequently helped turned Napa Valley into the
success and fame that it knows today.

The cast is played by Alan Rickman (Snape in Harry Potter), Bill Pullman
(Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping), Chris Pine (Princess Diaries II,
Star Trek), Rachael Taylor (Transformers), Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under,
Ugly Betty), Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling, Dollhouse),
and Dennis Farina (Get Shorty, Law & Order).

It's not a documentary as it is a film, but the major events in the story are true
and it is filmed at the original building and vineyards of Chateau Montelena
which was the vintner who won the blind tasting test in 1976 for the best white
wine (Chardonnay.)

I thought I might give a little tour to those who haven't had the
opportunity to visit Napa Valley yet. There are amazing scenes
in the movie of Napa Valley. Photo by Gary Crabbe.

Napa Valley on a misty morning. Photo by Gerhard Bock.

The leaves on the grapevines turn into amazing colors in
the fall. This photo by Ivan Makarov really shows the
beautiful fall colors in the valley.

This is the winery of V. Sattui which is a well established
vintner in Napa Valley near Rutherford.

Isn't the landscape gorgeous?

Another gorgeous photo during the fall in Napa.

There are many beautiful places to stay in Napa Valley
and the rates really run a wide rage (from under $100 to
$5000 per night.)

If you ever visit, I highly recommend the Napa Valley Wine Train.
The Napa Valley Wine Train serves lunch or dinner while you have
a fantastic ride through Napa Valley to take in the views. They do
have Sunday Champagne Brunches and there are special dates in the
year where the staff dress in costume for Mystery nights (like Clue),
theater nights and special holiday rides. I highly recommend the
Vista Dome during the day.

This is a view from the train with dessert.
Photo from Diablo Magazine.

This is what the Vista Dome car looks like.
The windows are larger and you dine in
style up close to the gorgeous view.

Napa and Sonoma Valley have really beautiful back country
roads through vineyards for cycling. Another great past time
is to ride a hot air balloon so you can get an aerial view of the valley.

Probably May through October is a good time to go.

I had mentioned that the winning Chardonnay from the 1976
Paris taste test is Chateau Montelena which is still around today
and going strong. They are located in the town of Calistoga in Napa

This is Chateau Montelena's label which shows the
facade of the Chateau's brick structure.

The film Bottle Shock was filmed here and they had a special
showing when the film was finished. Doesn't the chateau
look amazing?

When in Napa, you cannot skip out on the culinary delights.
If you can't manage to get reservations at the 3 star Michelin
French Laundry, then the Culinary Institute of America in Napa
(called Greystone)
is a good alternative. It's also easier on the
wallet. Their menu change daily.

Napa Valley is so picturesque even the roads
are tree lined and gorgeous.

You may not know that Calistoga is also home
to one of California's only natural hot springs.
How can you beat a combination of beautiful
wine country and hot springs? Care to try a
mud bath?

If you're in for the 5 star treatment, Calistoga Ranch and Auberge du Soleil
(owned by the same company) are where your celebrities would go. The
balcony above is from a Calistoga Ranch room. Calistoga Ranch also has
a whole menu of spa treatments.

Last but not least is Auberge du Soleil which even has
private manisons. The rates run from $550 - $4500 if
you're renting out any of the private mansions.

Check out the pool deck and area for Auberge du Soleil.
Wow. Talk about glam, no wonder the celebrities come

Bottle Shock

If you do get a chance to watch this movie - it's entertaining,
informative and has gorgeous scenery. For all of you interested
in the wine culture and Napa Valley, it should definitely be on
your list to watch.