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Pinot Noir up front and sideways

Pinot Noir Up Front and Sideways Although it didn't grab an Academy Award, the surprise hit movie "Sideways" has stirred up a lot of interest in wine and winemaking. California's Santa Ynez Valley, the wine country near Santa Barbara where much of the movie takes place, has seen a surge in tourism.

The film concerns a wine aficionado (played by actor Paul Giamatti) who is in search of the perfect pinot. His avid appreciation of that grape had helped drive up retail sales of pinot noir, anecdotally.

Now, analysis by ACNielsen confirms that. According to the consumer research firm, pinot noir sales are at record levels, reaching nearly 370,000 cases for the 12 week period of Oct. 24, 2004 (just after the film was released) to Jan. 15, 2005. That's up nearly 16% versus the same period a year earlier.

Interestingly, the biggest boost has come from domestic rather than imported pinot. And that varietal's sales in California, where the movie was set, have been especially strong.

Further, drawing on data from its Homescan consumer panel, ACNielsen says more people are trying pinot noir.

It the varietal's not already on your wine list, now's the time to offer it.

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