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‘Sideways’ at 2O:  The Santa Ynez Valley Is No Longer a Secret Thanks in Part to the Influence of Miles and Jack

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Miles would still love the world-class Pinot Noir, but Michelin-rated restaurants and an array of lodging choices have added to the depth of Santa Ynez Valley’s wine-country experience

February 29th – (SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.) — Twenty years after the release of the Oscar-winning film “Sideways,” Miles might just be ready to finally drink a glass of Santa Ynez Valley Merlot. Surprising as it might be, it would hardly be the only change since Miles (played by Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) visited the Santa Ynez Valley wine country on their fateful adventure. 

Filmed almost entirely on location, Sideways helped put the Santa Ynez Valley on the map after the cult classic first hit theaters on Oct. 22, 2004. Miles’ beloved luxurious and nuanced Pinot Noirs remain the hallmark of Santa Ynez Valley wines. And the film’s most memorable locations–including AJ SpursAlma Rosa WineryAndrew Murray VineyardsFess Parker WineryFirestone VineyardFoxen Vineyard & WineryGaviota State ParkHitching Post IIKalyra WineryLos Olivos Wine Merchant & CafeOstrichland USA, the River Course at The Alisal, and Solvang Restaurant—are still must-visits for any fan of the film.

Winner of Sunset Travel Awards for Best Destinations 2023 and World Class Wine Region 2022, the Santa Ynez Valley is no longer the hidden gem that Miles, Jack, Maya (Virginia Madsen), and Stephanie (Sandra Oh) brought to audiences 20 years ago. The Valley is now home to more than 100 wineries. Merlot has made a comeback, and the Santa Ynez Valley is known as much for the diversity of its varietals as the quality of its cool-climate Pinot Noirs. 

The region’s cuisine equals the quality of its wines, too. The Hitching Post II and Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe—both of which figure prominently in the film—are still flagship culinary experiences. But the creative culinary culture of the Santa Ynez Valley is also punctuated by its six Michelin-recognized restaurants — Bar Le CôteBell’s Los AlamosCoast RangeFirst & Oakpeasants FEAST, and Mattie’s Tavern — which have all opened since Sideways’ release.

Miles and Jack would hardly recognize the Sideways Inn since its renovation. And the Santa Ynez Valley is now home to so many wonderful hotels, retro motels, and wine country inns that deciding where to stay is perhaps the toughest decision about a visit to the region. That includes four (Hotel YnezThe GenevieveThe Landsby, and Skyview Los Alamos) out of the nine hotels that were recognized in Sunset Travel Awards’ Where to Stay: Best Wine Country Escapes 2023, as well as the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the “31 Most Anticipated New Hotel Openings for 2023.”

“Sideways is one of those films that embeds itself in the memories of audiences, and its influence can still be felt daily here in the Santa Ynez Valley,” said Shelby Sim, CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The character of this region remains the same as it was 20 years ago, and the hotels, wineries, and restaurants in the film still thrive. The biggest change over the last 20 years is the depth of experiences that the Santa Ynez Valley can now offer.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film, visitors can taste their way through the Santa Ynez Valley on the same path forged by Miles and Jack. Numerous tour companies offer guided tours to various film locations throughout the Valley, while maps and information are available to those seeking a self-guided trip.

Or you can experience the Santa Ynez Valley in ways that Miles and Jack never could have imagined. 

For more information, or to research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary, visit visitsyv.com.

About the Santa Ynez Valley

Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to six distinct towns each with its own culture, vibe, and menu of experiences. Blanketed with fruitful farms and vineyards, the California Central Coast wine region’s temperate weather allows for year-round activities of all sorts, spread throughout the historical communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Destination dining and world-class wines await, accompanied by lodging at every level, all painted into atmospheric backdrops that colorfully mesh Old World and Old West. Visit more than 100 wineries, feast on chef-driven cuisine, and enjoy festive events and design details from Victorian-era to mid-century to modern Danish. For more information, including a listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, and events, go to VisitSYV.com.

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