Sideways, the book that became a movie that launched a new generation of wine drinkers and drove Pinot Noir sales up 17 percent in the U.S. wine industry, is returning. This time it’s to the stage in Santa Monica, California.

Rex Pickett, the author of Sideways, has adapted his book for the stage, which opened at The Ruskin Group Theatre on Friday, May 18, 2012, for a 12 week run.


  • The 2004 film by Alexander Payne was nominated for five Oscars
  • Garnered over 350 awards worldwide
  • Named as one of Top 100 Screenplays of All Time
  • The film was translated into five different languages and established a worldwide audience


“I couldn’t have been more fortunate than to work with this talented theater group,” said Pickett, whose Miles Raymond character is loosely based upon his own life. “They bring the story to life in an electrifying live performance.”

The play is the story of four young 30-somethings who meet and travel in California’s wine country, rhapsodizing about the joys of wine. It’s directed by Amelia Mulkey, whom most recently directed Arthur Miller’s “Memory of Two Mondays.”


Top Pinot Noir producers have rallied to pour at every performance, which expects to run for 12 weeks. It has also inspired a sequel by author Pickett, entitled Vertical, (Loose Gravel Press). This new story follows the further adventures of Miles and Jack, as they travel into Willamette Valley’s Pinot territory.

This month Vertical won the 2012 First Place Gold Medal for fiction by the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

I remember a very long phone conversation well over a year ago with Rex Pickett, and he mentioned to me that Sideways had originally received over 100 rejection letters.  I spent most of the time laughing, because Rex is wildly amusing and incredibly spontaneous with his chatter. I felt like I was caught in a bubble with Robin Williams during the Mork & Mindy days. Rex could have been delivering the entire conversation standing on his head, and I wouldn’t have been surprised, much as Robin Williams did…  Not contrived to get my attention, but there simply might have been no better way to deliver the allegory. He’s a ball of energy.

Payne’s Oscar winning movie starred Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, as “Miles and Jack” respectively; along with Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh as the two women who become romantically involved. The film spurred tremendous interest in the California wine industry. Oregon wine officials are hoping Payne will do the same for the Willamette Valley, where Pickett’s new novel, Vertical is set.

I’m putting my money on Rex to pull off another coup for the wine industry… How about you? What do you think?


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