• by director Randall Miller
I knew there was a time when my parents were no longer ashamed to serve
California wine to their dinner guests, when it actually became chic
to do so. I had no idea what happened to cause that change. And so,
when I was first told this story of how a group of California farmers
took on the exalted French wines and bested them, I was intrigued. Maybe
there was a movie in this. Here was an underdog story that wasn’t
about sports or war. And when I flew up to Chateau Montelena, the vineyard
we focus on, and met with Jim and Bo Barrett, I realized what rich characters
I had before me.
The story of a lawyer who risked everything in the pursuit of an artistic
dream (to make fine hand-crafted wine) is what initially hooked me into
wanting to make Bottle Shock. I had directed studio movies
and some TV before I convinced Jody (my wife and partner) to mortgage
our house so we could make a movie we felt passionate about. That movie,
our first indie, was called Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing &
Charm School. Bottle Shock is the heir to that choice.
I am drawn to stories of passion or risk. Stories about men or women
who realize they only have one shot at this experience that is life
and who set forth into an unknown in pursuit of a dream—or a dream
of a dream. Jim Barrett was one of those men and I admire the choices
he made and the journey he chose. It was an honor to work in his shadow.
With Bottle Shock, I was also intrigued by the story of a little
blind tasting that lit the spark that ignited the enological fire that
burnt down the cronyistic forest that triggered the creative earthquake
that upset the status quo and opened the world to new pioneers of viniculture
and viticulture around the globe.
In the film, Alan Rickman quotes Galileo: “Wine is sunlight held
together by water.” Alan, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor,
Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku are my sunlight, each
perfectly capturing the moment and making me look like a better director
than I am. And Michael Ozier’s cinematography makes every image
captivating, from the intimacy of a bedroom mirror to the lush fields
of grapes sweeping by. Brilliant cinematography in the service of Craig
Stearns’ magical production design puts us in the ‘70s in
both Napa and France. Mark Adler’s luminous score ties the story
together and gives a musical heart to the film. My collaborator, my
partner, my wife, Jody Savin, is the rudder. She was the one who compiled
the hundreds of pages of source material and shaped them into what became
the shooting draft of the script. This is my creative family with whom
I continue to collaborate on upcoming projects and future pursuits.