The film Sideways was a big hit in 2004 even before it won an Oscar.

Even if you didn’t see it you’ll remember something about it.

For wine lovers, it has become something of a cult movie and this has proved a godsend for the location it was filmed.

The wine-region to the north of Santa Barbara is having some tough times, with hotel occupancy down by 7%.

Equally gloomy is that customers are spending less in the restaurants and bars, such that spending per room is down 15%. The story is the same in all businesses around the region

But people are aware that things could be a lot worse if it hadn’t been for Sideways, especially in the Santa Ynez Valley where most of it was filmed.

Visitors still turn up on tours guided by Sideways-based maps they’ve printed off the internet to follow in the staggering footsteps of Jack and Miles.

Visitors ask weekly about Room 234 in Days Inn Windmill in Buellton, where the film’s heroes stayed, and the maps include the Firestone Winery in Los Olivos where they sneak off to investigate the delights of the barrel room.

Naturally they need to taste and drink plenty of wine along the way.

Wineries are offering specials and two-for-one coupons to keep trade flowing but the movie is still encouraging people to buy wine.

Apart from anything else, you can tell this from what they’re buying.

Across the state as a whole, sales of Merlot as compared to Pinot Noir haven’t changed a great deal.

But in the valley, where Miles expressed contempt for the lack of character in Merlot, many vendors have stopped selling it altogether, whilst wine made from his favoured Pinot Noir is doing just fine.

Sales of Merlot will no doubt pick up again at some point.

Wine-lovers who are less intoxicated by the film might find some bargains to pick up in the meantime. 

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