Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sideways in southern California

I grew up in southern California and went to college in Santa Barbara, so one of the things I enjoyed most about the movie "Sideways" was its locations in the Santa Ynez Valley. It was fun recognizing landmarks from my youth, like the sign for Pea Soup Andersen's that I passed so many times on family vacations, or the Danish tourist-trap-town of Solvang. I even took a road trip to this area myself with a couple of pals, although since we were in our late teens at the time there was no wine-tasting involved. I had read reviews that misidentified the film's setting as the better-known Northern California wine country, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the two friends played by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church veer off the freeway so very much sooner.

Apparently a lot of folks are now making that detour, because "Sideways" has become a real boon for businesses in the area. You can now go to the Santa Barbara visitor's information Web site and download a "Sideways" map to help you drive along the route followed by Miles and Jack, or purchase a "Sideways" package including hotel and tour. The Hitching Post II, where the waitress played by Virginia Madsen worked, has an article about the filming of the movie on its Web site, and the Los Olivos Cafe, where the four main characters had dinner, offers a "Sideways" menu so you can dine just like they did. The $29 price tag includes a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, but no #@%!$ Merlot.

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