Spring 2011

Oregon vintners hope ‘Vertical’ is another ‘Sideways’

When the the Oscar-nominated film "Sideways" came out in 2004, it brought broad interest in Pinot Noir - and one line in the film did great damage to the California Merlot industry.

While the movie ostensibly was about two friends on a road trip and their failings as human beings, it was the first film to draw widespread interest in wine.

Soon after the movie became a huge hit, rumors began about a sequel that would take place in Oregon wine country. That became reality in December, when author Rex Pickett's sequel novel "Vertical" came out.

"Vertical" is set seven years later and is an elaborate parody on "Sideways" (book and movie). After the events that took place in the first book, Miles writes a novel called "Shameless" that becomes a hit movie. Meanwhile, Jack is divorced and out of work, and Miles' mom is an invalid. So Miles cooks up a plan to kidnap his mom from a nursing facility and take her and Jack to Oregon's International Pinot Noir Celebration.

As they drive up the coast, Miles and Jack commit increasing levels of debauchery, and their outrageous behavior causes laugh-out-loud problems.

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In the end, it's story of redemption and closure.

And it probably will make a good movie. Can it provide the same kind of magic we saw seven years ago? Unlikely. Few sequels approach originals. And frankly, I don't know that "Vertical" is what the Oregon wine industry was hoping for. In the book, the IPNC comes off looking like a drunkfest rather than an exaltation of the Willamette Valley's glorious grapes. Pickett drops a lot of names in "Vertical," which I suppose is good for those wineries, but I will be shocked if any upcoming film will provide another "Sideways" effect.

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