Sideways Means Upward Sales for Pinot Noir

Discussion
Feb 22, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Sideways, the Academy Award nominated film about a couple of guys consuming mass quantities of wine while on a road trip along California’s
central coast, is being credited with substantially boosting the sales of local wineries in the area.

Pinot noir sales jumped sharply after the movie opened last year with sales up 16 percent, according to supermarket, drug and liquor store sales
data from ACNielsen.

George Christie, brand manager at the Wild Horse winery, said his company has seen supermarket sales of its pinot noir jump 135 per cent.

“You just don’t get those kind of jumps,” he told the Canadian Press. “The central coast has been producing some incredible wines for quite
some time. I think it’s fabulous that a movie like this comes along and now people are trying the wines out.”

Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree that the increase in pinot noir sales can be tied directly to Sideways? Have you been influenced to purchase a product
after seeing it in a movie or television show?

Okay, we admit it. We went to White Castle for the first time in years after renting Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
George Anderson – Moderator

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7 Comments on "Sideways Means Upward Sales for Pinot Noir"


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David Morse
Guest
David Morse
16 years 13 days ago

I saw the movie Saturday night, and agree with Rick’s comments about the movie.

Miles’ monologue about why he favors Pinot is breathtaking. He talks about the fragility of the grape, it’s thin skin, the fact that it survives only in select micro-pockets on the planet, and the absolute love and understanding it needs to be nurtured.

It was a moving scene, and I thought, a perfect metaphor for Miles’ character.

My friend and I immediately bought a bottle of Pinot after the movie, and I left the theatre with a newfound zest about wine and wine tasting. And I did feel a wee bit embarrassed to admit a penchant for merlot as well, a wine that such a connoisseur as Miles absolutely trashes in the movie.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
16 years 13 days ago

Based on purely anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues, combined with newspaper reports and press releases, the movie is absolutely responsible for increased purchase. Of course it will be even more interesting to see whether or not it is sustainable. After all, apart from those who get so hooked that they end up needing AA as suggested, there will be others who discover that they really don’t like the wine at all and switch to drinks they find more suitable for their own palates (alcoholic or otherwise). Loyalty development following introduction of new products through seeing them on screen might be an intriguing subject for a PhD or one of those endlessly useless studies for which absurdly lucky applicants often manage to find sponsorship.

PS – I’m open to offers if anyone reading this wants to encourage me.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
16 years 13 days ago

I have trouble believing that a single film could have the sort of influence that’s been reported; however, I am unable to come up with a better explanation. As it happens, pinot noir suits many of the foods that are most popular right now. However, that pop culture influences what we buy has been demonstrated time and time again. And this result supports the degree of product placement that is currently occurring. I would be able to entirely believe that Sideways is responsible if merlot sales have declined by an equal or greater amount, which I have actually, anecdotally, heard is the case – but I’ve not seen it supported.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
16 years 13 days ago

With movies and the entertainment industry openly supporting smoking by including it in nearly every movie made, it’s no wonder that they shouldn’t do the same for alcohol and wine consumption. Glamorizing people with bad habits or addictions has been in style in one form or another for a long time and I see few signs that things will improve soon. I wonder which is the greatest reason, that the creative people embrace these addictions or that they are influenced by industry sponsorship. Do we need new warning labels for movies – “Caution watching this movie may cause impressionable people to think that addictions to alcohol or tobacco are socially acceptable and not harmful to your health.”? Life was so much easier when we all thought we were invincible.

Rick Moss
Guest
16 years 13 days ago
Actually, Karen, according to the same news release from ACNielsen, merlot has more than held its own during the same period. “Merlot, despite being the subject of Miles’ disdain in the movie, continues to sell well and still ranks as the largest red varietal, ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon. It represented 11.6 percent of all table wine sold in the U.S. through the combined grocery/drug/liquor store channel prior to the movie’s release. For the four weeks ending January 15, 2005, it was up to 12.2 percent.” But I have to tell you, I found the scene in which the main character and his love interest describe their infatuation with pinot to be mesmerizing. And we picked up a bottle on our walk from the theater to out post-movie dinner. My theory (based on my own mediocre understanding of wine), is that the majority of wine-drinking consumers are in a constant state of insecurity about their purchase selection. That’s why influencing them is so easy and why retailers should make use of shelf-talker recommendations and hand-outs to… Read more »
Carol Spieckerman
Guest
16 years 13 days ago

The movie has absolutely had an effect on wine consumption, particularly Pinot Noir. To Rick’s point, Pinot Noir is particularly inaccessible since you tend to “get what you pay for” and the good stuff isn’t cheap. I too picked up a bottle a day or two after watching the movie and planned a meal around it (sort of an “oh yeah, Pinot Noir!” moment – I usually drink white). Tour companies and travel agencies have jumped on the bandwagon and are conducting “Sideways” wine tours in California and in Europe, and of course those tourists are buying up cases of Pinot along the way. Wonder if the ranks of AA members will increase commensurately since the movie was just as much about problem drinking disguised as connoisseurship as it was about wine appreciation!

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
16 years 12 days ago
To my annoyance, wine goes through these sorts of trends. First, it was Merlot, about 1993. It was, prior to that time, a perfectly good wine – a bit fruity, but easy to drink, especially for someone who isn’t a “wine person.” Then it suddenly becomes THE thing to order in all the most trendy restaurants. Demand outstrips supply and, in response, winemakers begin using lower-quality grapes mixed in to fill demand. A sort of literal scraping of the bottom of the barrel, if you will. Quality plummets, and suddenly merlot is for losers. Then, in 1999, it happens again with Shiraz. Now, in 2005, it’s happening with Pinot Noir. I would have thought that Pinot Noir would be safe from this sort of thing, because it has a strong mouthfeel and a complexity that I would think would be a turnoff to a beginning winedrinker, but I guess there’s no predicting popular culture. Problem is that the world supply of the appropriate grapes for Pinot is awfully limited, so you can bet the farm… Read more »
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