New movie mocks Wine Country’s affordability problem

And whether or not the producers realize it, “beautiful issues” are incredibly timely. The new Wine movie set in Sonoma talks about one of Wine Country’s biggest challenges: Many people think a visit is too expensive.

The stand-alone comedy mocks two aspects of a privileged generation: the typical visitor to wine country – the wealthy and privileged millennials – and the subset of the less well-off millennials that the wine industry struggles to engage with. The film drives the idea that wine has an accessibility problem and that only the wealthy can play among the vineyards.

And they reflect recent headlines: Earlier this year, Wall Street Journal wine columnist Letty Teague noted that “the main crop in Napa is cash, not grapes.” With prices at wineries and hotels soaring, The Chronicle reports how many people no longer feel like Wine Country is “for ordinary people.” Last week, Los Angeles Magazine wrote about the “Hamptomization” of the Napa Valley.

IFC Films follows a couples’ weekend in Sonoma. He befriends a wealthy woman named Kat Lindsey, a salesperson at an upscale department store. After buying half the store, Kat invites Lindsay and her husband, Jack, to Sonoma for a weekend getaway.

“The cat says it’s the new Nappa,” Lindsay tells a reluctant Jack, agonizing over the difference between Nappa and Sonoma and then Sonoma and Sedona.

Despite the rural background, wealth, not wine, is the subject of this film. Billionaire couple Kat and Matt, along with their friend Kerry — who is dating a young actress/model/influencer also called Carrie — have a lot of it, while Lindsey and Jack lust afterwards.

The filmmakers did not retreat from the rich stereotypes of millennials. Admittedly, wealthy personalities are odiously privileged and arrogant.

She’s never been seen without her vape pen, which changes colors to match her clothes, and talks about doing ayahuasca (a botanical psychedelic) with “Elon and Grimes.” Group small doses of mushrooms. He takes part in a silent disco party and a cocoa party led by the shaman; and snacks on mung bean balls. (They never seem to go out to eat or participate in a tasting of typical Wine Country food, but a SingleThread visit would be appropriate here.) producers.

Wine is the status symbol in the movie. One winery sells bottles for $300, which is unheard of in Napa and Sonoma. Matt and Kerry buy several cases each, causing the tasting room host to fall for her despite the group’s unapologetic behavior. Meanwhile, Lindsay pressures Jack to buy some wine, too. When Jack orders only one bottle, the host publicly shames him and refuses to quote him.

While many recent wine movies and TV shows have flooded audiences with incorrect information about wine, “Pretty Problems” takes care to be mostly accurate. (There have been some continuity issues, but only eagle-eyed wine connoisseurs will notice.)

“I thought we were in Sonoma,” Lindsay said upon arrival.

“We are, but it’s actually Healdsburg, and technically Windsor, but it’s all in the Sonoma area,” Kat explains, addressing a common misconception in Sonoma Wine Country. Visitors often don’t realize that while Sonoma is a city, Sonoma Wine Country is huge and includes many towns and wine regions, such as the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley.

Later in the pool, Matt explains to Jack that Syrah and Shiraz are actually the same grapes. “It’s the same thing as the Sauvy B and Sancerre,” he says, using the hipster acronym for Sauvignon Blanc. “It’s just a marketing question.”

Both are correct. Shiraz is what Australians call Syrah while Sancerre is a wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes but produced in the Loire Valley in France.

As the weekend approaches, the concept of money predictably begins to tear up Lindsey and Jack.

“Money doesn’t solve your problems,” Kat says. “It just makes her prettier.”

It can also give you a very luxurious weekend in Wine Country.

“Pretty Problems” is shown at the Landmark Opera Plaza cinema in San Francisco and is also available upon request.

Jess Lander is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: Twitter: jesslander

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