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Separating fact from fiction as told in 'Bottle Shock'

The new movie "Bottle Shock," which opened around the North Bay on Friday, may have movie-goers wondering: What's fact? What's fiction?

The film, which is not a documentary, is loosely based on the Paris tasting in 1976 that shocked the wine world when California bottlings out-scored French.

It focuses on the winning chardonnay in the tasting and the people behind it, Jim and Bo Barrett (played by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine, respectively), a father-and-son team from Calistoga's Chateau Montelena.

This being a Hollywood version of history, there are many embellishments. Perhaps the most far-fetched is that a Calistoga bar in the early '70s would carry a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc.

We went to one of the true-life characters for help in sorting reality from fabrication: Gustavo Brambila, who is played by Freddy Rodriguez, was assistant winemaker at Chateau Montelena during the summer of 1976.

The scenes and plot lines that follow are all in the film, but are they true-to-life or fantasy? (Answers at end.)

In the film:

1) Bo Barrett is portrayed as an unruly surfer dude who frustrated his father because he wanted Bo to be more ambitious at the winery.

2) The Barretts have a boxing ring on the winery property and Jim often boxes with his son.

3) Gustavo has a fling with the winery's college intern.


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