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Locals, extras get a peek at film portraying California wines' triumph over the French in 1976

  • The line formed outside the main doors to the Sebastiani Theatre as patrons wait to get in to see Bottle Shock in Sonoma, Friday August 15, 2008. Many of the patrons had been extras in the movie and were excited to see their place in the movie.

Locally grown wine movie "Bottle Shock" made its local public debut Friday night in Sonoma's Sebastiani Theatre, buzzing with life as wine lovers, film extras and family and friends of both gathered for a taste of the film on California's wine history.

The low-budget, furiously filmed indy film narrates the "mostly true" story of California wines' historic victory over French wines at a blind Paris tasting in 1976.

The film focuses on Chateau Montelena, the producer of the 1973 chardonnay that starred in the tasting.

The film earned three and a half stars in a Roger Ebert review and the nod of locals and winegrowers, who turned out to see what the movie "got right," said one Sonoma woman.

None appeared to be disappointed after the 6 p.m. showing.

"I thought it was wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone," said Sonoma resident Tom Sheahan, one of the film's two dozen extras who attended the initial local public release. "They did a wonderful job in making it."

Gaby Burkhert, also of Sonoma, agreed.

"It's fantastic because it's about how serious wine is for this town. It's a Sonoma film," she said. "If you are a real Sonoman you are here tonight. We are all real Sonomans here."

With a 6 p.m. showing just finished and an 8:30 p.m. showing appearing sold out, co-producer Brenda Lhormer beamed as friends congratulated her on the applause-earning film.

"To have the movie play here is the most magical part of it all," she said. "I feel so proud that so many extras, so many people with small speaking parts, came out here to support us tonight."


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