Five Favorite Wine Movies

by Julie Cohn

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Looking for a great movie to curl up to with your Cabernet to this Friday night?  Here are my five favorite wine movies that celebrate the goodness of the grape and those who love it.  Don’t you just want to move to California or Italy after watching these?

Five Favorite Wine Movies


Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh

I haven’t found a movie with Paul Giamatti that I don’t like, but he is particularly stellar in this film.  Giamatti plays Miles, a pretentious divorced English teacher with a penchant for writing and fine wine…which he uses to drown the sorrows of his failures in life.  Miles, along with his pal, Jack (Haden), embark on a road trip through Santa Ynez wine country, for one last trip before Jack gets married.  There, Miles and Jack meet Maya (Madsen) and Stephanie (Oh) and romantic entanglements ensue.  Sideways is romantic, hilarious, and celebrates the beauty of wineries and wine.  It also has a killer soundtrack!


A Good Year:

Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard, Albert Finney, Didlier Bourdon, Abbie Cornish

A Good Year

Photo from A Good Year

Max (Crowe) is an ambitious, somewhat ruthless businessman who, as a child, spent his summers at his Uncle Henry’s (Finney) estate in Provence, Southern France.  When Uncle Henry dies, Max inherits his estate, complete with large chateau and vineyards, which he hopes to sell and make a profit on.  After spending time at the estate and reminiscing about the happy times he had with his uncle, Max struggles to balance his ambitions with his uncles wishes.  Along the way, he meets Fanny (Cotillard) a local café owner, Frances Duflot (Bourdon) the estate winemaker, and Christie Roberts (Cornish) who may or may not be Uncle Henry’s daughter.  Does Max do the right thing in the end?  The scenery in this movie is breathtaking and the story between Max and Fanny is charming and tender.


A Walk In The Clouds:

Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, and Giancarlo Giannini

Paul Sutton (Reeves) traumatized by the war (WWII), returns home to a wife who does not love him.  When Paul travels to Sacramento to sell chocolates, he meets Victoria (Gijon), a young girl who got pregnant at college and is heading home to her family vineyards in Napa.  Victoria is scared to go home to her father’s wrath, and Paul, feeling sorry for her, accompanies her home, pretending to be her husband.  Victoria’s father, Alberto (Giannini) is furious that she married without his permission, so Paul tries to sneak away.  Victoria’s grandfather, Don Pedro (Quinn) finds out the truth, but takes a liking to Paul and encourages him to stay for the grape harvest.  During the harvest, Paul falls in love not only with Victoria, but with her family and their way of life. This movie is bittersweet and heartbreaking, with lovely cinematography and a gorgeous soundtrack.  Interesting fact:  The movie was partially filmed at Charles Krug Winery.


The Secret of Santa Vittoria:

Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi, Hardy Kruger, and Giancarlo Giannini.


Photo from Secret of Santa VIttoria

I saw this movie a long time ago, but Quinn’s performance, as well as the gorgeous scenery of the small Italian town featured in the film stayed with me through the years.  Typical of most movies in the late 1960’s, The Secret of Santa Vittoria is a little “cheesy” but also a heart-warming story.  Italo Bombolini (Quinn), mayor of the wine making town of Santa Vittoria, finds out his town will be invaded by German forces intend on claiming Santa Vittoria’s stash of wine–over a million bottles.  Bombolini, along with the residents of Santa Vittoria, rush to hide their precious bottles of wine before the Germans arrive.  The Germans, led by Sepp Von Prum (Kruger), knows the town is hiding the wine and is determined to find it.    Bombolini, once nothing more than the town drunk, becomes the town hero when he stands up to Von Prum and protects Santa Vittoria’s most important treasure.


French Kiss:

Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton, and Suzan Anbeh

Photo courtesy of French Kiss

Photo courtesy of French Kiss

Though not directly related to wine, French Kiss features the gorgeous vineyards of Southern France.  Kline’s character, Luc, a jewel thief, hopes to buy back his families vineyards after losing them in a game of Poker.  Kate (Ryan) a quiet school teacher, comes to France to win back her fiancé, Charlie (Hutton), who has fallen in love with a french woman, Juliette (Anbeh).  She enlists the help of Luc to help her win back Charlie, but instead, despite his devilish ways, Kate falls for Luc.  The chemistry and animosity between Kate and Luc is sweet and funny.

If you are looking for food inspiration, be sure to check out my Five Favorite Romantic Cooking Movies.  What are some of your favorite movies about wine?

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