85: How Did the Mega-Hit Movie Sideways Change Pinot Noir (and Merlot)?


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How did the novel and movie Sideways change the wine market in North America? In the book, the character Miles is portrayed as a wine snob, but what really defines a wine snob? What do you need to know if you want to become a successful writer?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Rex Pickett, author of the mega-hit wine book and movie Sideways.


  • How has time been a great friend to Sideways?
  • What is it about the characters in Sideways that makes them feel unique to you?
  • How did wine and California wine country become an important part of Rex's life?
  • Why does Rex start out with honing in on character and setting in his writing?
  • What is Rex telling you when he talks about wine snobs?
  • What is the key difference you can see in the depth of the wine world versus other types of alcohol?
  • How can you enjoy the purple prose of wine writing?
  • What change can you see in the red wine market as a result of Sideways?
  • Why does Rex believe Merlot needed a market correction after it's 1990s popularity?
  • What can you expect from a bottle of Hitching Post Pinot Noir?
  • Can you expect a different experience from the Sideways play in comparison to the movie and book?
  • Where does Vertical fit in with Rex's personal story?
  • What are Rex's best tips for you as an aspiring writer?

About Rex Pickett

Rex Pickett is the author of the novel Sideways, the multiple award-winning Alexander Payne film of the same title. Sideways captured over 350 critics and awards organization plaudits, including 2 Golden Globes, an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the prestigious Writers Guild Award, 6 Indie Spirit Awards … and the list goes on. Rex has written and directed two independent feature films, California Without End and From Hollywood to Deadwood (Island Pictures). He wrote the 2000 Academy Award-winning Best Live Action Short My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York.

His Sideways sequel Vertical won the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2012. His Sideways 3 Chile forms the final leg of the trilogy. In 2012, Rex adapted his novel into Sideways: the Play. He staged four record-breaking runs, first at Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica where it ran for 6 months, then the La Jolla Playhouse, where it broke all attendance records for a non-musical in their 35-year history, with 3-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff directing.

In 2017, in collaboration with composer Anthony Adams, Rex turned his attention to the musical version of Sideways. Two years later the Book for the musical is finished, half the songs are composed and recorded, and a 3-time Tony Award-winning musical theater director (to be announced soon) has come on board. There is every likelihood that the “workshop” (or premiere) production will happen in the latter part of 2020.

Rex grew up in southern California, matriculated from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). He was a Special Projects major, specializing in literary and film criticism, and creative writing. A member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatists Guild, and now ASCAP, Rex has enjoyed success in long-form fiction, screenwriting, independent film, and now stage. The Rex Pickett Papers are now enshrined at his alma mater UCSD in Geisel Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the https://www.nataliemaclean.com/85.

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