Sideways for us started in 1998 as Rex Pickett (writer of the novel, Sideways) would often hang out at our bar on his visits here from Southern California. He said he was writing a book about our region, its wines, wineries, restaurants and people. He said the bartender and a waitress were in it. I, being somewhat of a skeptic, didn't believe it would ever be published. Boy, was I wrong!
Only in June of 2003 did we realize that Sideways would be a movie as location scouts began to comb the Santa Ynez Valley. Rex really had written a novel, and that manuscript had been picked up by directer Alexander Payne. His people were setting up filming in many of the places that Rex had visited and written into his soon-to-be book. The Hitching Post was one of those places. I, still being the skeptic, wasn't sure I wanted the HP to be part of this. Would they treat the Hitching Post, all my friend's wines, and our region with honor and respect?
I met the with the producer Michael London and many of his staff. I asked a million questions. After reading the script, I had issues with some of the content. I met with Alexander Payne to discuss these points. He took note of what I had to say, although I knew he wasn't going to change his movie on my account. But I was convinced he was a sensitive, creative and very talented director. I knew we should be involved as much as we could.
Before filming started actress Virginia Madsen, who plays a waitress in the HP, came and spent time in our kitchen and bar to get a feeling of what that job is like and who we are. We brought her and Sandra Oh to our winery to show them how we make wine. We also took them to Au Bon Climat winery where they enjoyed a famous Jim Clendenen lunch.
Sideways was filmed in our region over ten weeks in October/November 2003.
They used the Hitching Post for three days.
We were braced for an uncomfortable experience, having heard that Hollywood filmmakers would trample our location, and all of us in their way. Instead, everyone on the Sideways team was considerate, a pleasure to work and be with. They were all so happy and glad to be working on this quality film with such a wonderful director in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.
We were and are so happy to have been a part of Sideways!