Image courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
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Ten years ago, the movie Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures) introduced the world to the wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley near the Central California coast. Miles (Paul Giammati) takes Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a last week as a bachelor wine-tasting trip. Plenty of wine, fine dining and hilarity ensue as Miles and Jack become entangled with Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh).
The movie put the Santa Ynez Valley on the map as a wine destination and made merlot a dirty word. Thanks to Visit Santa Barbara you can download a Sideways mapand make your very own wine-and-dine getaway that commemorates famous scenes from the movie while letting you experience fantastic food and drink. There are 18 different spots on the map, but after you've watched this classic film again, here are five favorites to try.
This was where Miles made his famous anti-merlot rant and later drunk-dialed his ex-wife from the phone in the back hallway. That phone is still there, but more importantly, the restaurant is where you can find basil arancini, parmesan gnocchi or lamb shank with polenta fries. The "and Wine Merchant" part of the title means you can also get great local wines to go with your meal, but also to take home. The wine list includes Bernat Estate Wines, made by the owner of the cafe.
In this pivotal part of the movie, Fess Parker was Frass Canyon winery where Miles hits rock bottom and drinks the spit bucket. In reality, this winery named after the guy who played Daniel Boone on TV is a beautiful spot to enjoy wine tasting. Buy a bottle and take it out onto the patio and have a glass while enjoying gorgeous surroundings. The winery regularly wins awards for its chardonnays, pinot noirs and Rieslings.
Jack and Miles shared a bottle of Highliner at this restaurant where Maya worked and they also make their own tasty wines. Miles was obsessed with Pinot Noirs, and once you've tried the Highliner Pinot Noir you'll see why. Stick around for dinner and try the roasted garlic and grilled artichokes and Midwestern corn-fed steaks.
This restaurant, which has been in the picturesque Danish town of Solvang for decades, is where Jack told Miles to stop being such a downer. The staff can point out and put you in the very same booth where you can enjoy Arnes Famous Aebleskiver. Whether or not you can pronounce the name of the Danish dish, you'll love the way the pancake-style batter is rolled into balls and served with jam and powdered sugar.
This is where Stephanie pours samples for Jack and romance ensues. This winery with an Australian name produces whites and reds but is also known for its dessert wines, including Muscat and port.
In between all of these stops, you'll also find yourself driving along beautiful country roads past rolling hills filled with vineyards - just like Jack and Miles. Whether it's wining, dining or just enjoying the stunning views, get ready to go Sideways!
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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