By Jessica Yadegaran
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 5:08 pm in Uncategorized.
Holy grape stomping. It’s really happening! This just in from the publicists behind the hush-hush production of “The Judgment of Paris,” the true story of the now-famous wine tasting of
1976. Last year I covered its 30th anniversary. It will definitely be coming to the big screen. Here’s the press release I just received. In the shell of a nut, Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant will most likely star. The screenplay should be finished this month and production should begin in Napa this fall. Read on:
“Written by acclaimed screenwriter and Napa vintner Robert Mark Kamen, (TAPS, THE KARATE KID, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, THE FIFTH ELEMENT) and produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson and Kamen, the feature film production has garnered the support of many of the participants in the historic event, including Europe-based organizers Steven Spurrier and Patrica Gastaud-Gallagher, and the two triumphant Californian winemakers Warren Winiarski and Mike Grgich.
At the blind tasting, presided over by a panel of entirely French judges, California Cabernets Sauvignons and Chardonnays were tasted against their French counterparts—red Bordeaux and white Burgundies. When the scores were tallied, Warren Winiarski’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and Mike Grgich’s Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena took top honors.
“The entire history of American Wine,” says Kamen, “can be defined as ‘before the Paris tasting and after the Paris tasting”. Before the Paris tasting,” he continues, “any discussion of fine wine began and ended with France. After the tasting, the world woke up to the fact that fine wine could be grown in places other than the historic vineyards of Bordeaux and Burgundy.”
“The world of wine was never the same again, and better for it,” Kamen concludes. Kamen anticipates the screenplay will be finished in the next month. Tom Hanks has been discussed to play Warren Winiarski and Hugh Grant is the producers’ first choice for Steven Spurrier.
In 2006, George Taber, the only journalist to attend the tasting, published the book Judgment of
Paris, and critics and oenophiles alike quickly declared it the definitive source on the now-famous event. “The story of the Paris Tasting is a wonderful tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” comments Taber. “I’m delighted that the story is going to be told like it really happened. And by bringing so many of the original players on board, I’m sure the tale will be told with all of the dramatic inspiration and nuance that truly unfolds in this story,” Taber adds.
One of those original characters, Warren Winiarski, remarks, “Many of the lives and events leading up to the Paris tasting seem unrelated and random when taken separately. But when looked at together, what happened at the tasting seems like destiny. George Taber captures that sense in his book, and with Robert’s skills in script writing, the same important and exciting story should come alive on the screen.”
Patricia Gastaud-Gallagher agrees, “Steven and I applaud the producers’ choice of George Taber’s book, The Judgment of Paris, and their “truth is greater than fiction” approach to the serendipitous tale of our “Bicentennial tasting.” The fact that one of the best writers in the business, Robert Kamen, also a winegrower, has signed on to tell our story of heady days in Paris, and the story of California’s fine wine pioneers, leads us to expect a blockbuster!”
Steven Spurrier is excited to be portrayed as one of the main characters in the film and enthuses, “I still find it extraordinary, over 30 years after the event, that Patricia Gallagher’s and my enthusiasm for a handful of California wines and our hopes to have their quality recognised by French experts ended with such a stunning result: a watershed for California and a wake-up call for France.”
Winning winemaker, Mike Grgich, is especially enthusiastic about this story being told to a broader audience and said, “The Paris Tasting was important not just for Warren Winiarski and myself but our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry. By telling this fascinating true story, this movie will introduce a whole new audience to the quality of Napa Valley wines.”
I’ll be reporting on the production from the front lines people. After I go home and open up my best — OK, second best — Napa Cab. Let’s celebrate!