From Sundance to San Diego


Del Mar movie producers look toward the local openings of “Bottle Shock”

Robert Baizer and his wife Diane Jacobs-Baizer are inching closer to seeing the independent movie they helped produce hit San Diego area big screens.

The Del Mar couple’s film, “Bottle Shock,” is a story based on the events surrounding and leading up to the now famous Paris wine tasting of 1976. It focuses on the Chateau Montelena gang who made the prevailing chardonnay at the event, which inadvertently put Napa Valley on the wine map.

The movie opened in the United States’ largest markets Aug. 6. In San Diego, the film can be seen at La Jolla Village Cinemas and Hillcrest Cinemas starting Aug. 15.

The first time the film was seen by the general public was at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The couple considers that quite an accomplishment as less than 3 percent of the projects submitted to Sundance in 2008 were shown at the festival and only half of those were from the USA.

“Opening night at the Sundance Film Festival was thrilling,” Baizer said.

Baizer and Jacobs-Baizer are no rookies as executive producers. Lifelong theater fans, they are supporters of the La Jolla Playhouse where “Jersey Boys” got its start. Confident of the success of “Jersey Boys,” they became investors in the show helping to take it to Broadway where it received the 2006 Tony Award for best musical. As producers, they were presented with their own Tony Award, which now sits in their home.

The couple was introduced to their newest project, “Bottle Shock,” while on the grape sorting table at a private winemaking club in Napa Valley called The Reserve.

“Three days later, after we returned to San Diego, a screenplay showed up in the mail,” Baizer said. “Upon reading it, I thought that this was a movie that needed to be made.”

Once that decision was made, the couple provided the seed capital to turn the screenplay into a script, fund early location scouting and raise the rest of the money necessary to complete the project.

“Our process has really paralleled what a vintner goes through from bud break to release,” Baizer said.

Though factually based, some liberties have been taken which make the story of interest to an audience greater than wine lovers alone. Jacobs-Baizer describes the film as “an American underdog tale, sort of a ‘Rocky’ meets ‘Sideways’” - without the darker aspects of the latter, and a love story blended in.

“The movie represents the major facets about the history of the event,” Baizer said. “The main people involved have great stories about the path to winning.”

The show has not gone forward without some competition. A rival film, factually based upon the book “Judgment of Paris,” is also being produced about the watershed event.

“I certainly believe that the ‘Judgment of Paris’ is the definitive text on the historical events,” Baizer said.

Now, as “Bottle Shock” is preparing to hit mainstream cinemas across the country, the couple has had a chance to reminisce about the two-year production time. Baizer said he got a charge out of spending a day as an extra in the film.

Jacobs-Baizer said being on the set in Napa in August was memorable, but she believes the best is yet to come when the lights go on in San Diego.

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