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Thursday February 22nd 2024

Sideways | 2004

Sideways location: the windmill motel, Days Inn Buellton, 114 East Highway 246, Buellton, California
Sideways location: Miles and Jack stay at the windmill motel: Days Inn Buellton, 114 East Highway 246, Buellton, California

A bit of a dark horse from Alexander Payne (Election), with a handful of Oscar nominations, and Thomas Haden Church walking off with one of the little gold chaps.

Before committing to married middle-age, college pals Miles and Jack (Paul Giamatti and Church) take to the road for a weekend of winetasting (hangdog Miles) and casual sex (reckless Jack). Most of the film was shot north of Los Angeles, around the Santa Barbara area, and you can get a free map of their tour from the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau. In fact, the opening, supposedly ‘San Diego’, is Santa Barbara itself; and Miles’ mother’s home in ‘Oxnard’ is Santa Maria, north toward San Luis Obispo (we’ll be back to Santa Maria later).

As Miles heads into Los Angeles to collect Jack, he drives past the towering, circular Hotel Angeleno, 170 North Church Lane, in Brentwood – which was the hotel into which Al Pacino moves in Heat), but once on the road, the pair travel around the California coastal area, between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Sideways location: Santa Barbara, California
Sideways location: Miles and Jack tour Santa Barbara’s Wine Country, California | Photo: Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau

Miles teaches Jack the finer points of wine tasting – “the faintest soupcon of asparagus, and just a flutter of nutty Edam cheese” – at Sanford Winery, 7250 Santa Rosa Road, Buellton, before travelling on to Solvang, yes, built to look like a Scandinavian village, and then, erm, Buellton. OK, geographically it doesn’t always make total sense.

The ‘windmill’ motel at which Miles and Jack stay was the Days Inn Buellton, now wisely rebranded as the Sideways Inn, 114 East Highway 246, Buellton. They walk down to the Hitching Post II, 406 East Highway 246, Buellton, where Maya (Virginia Madsen) waits tables, and where Miles recommends the ostrich steak.

Cracks in the odd couple relationship start to appear over breakfast at the Solvang Restaurant, 1672 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang.

Sideways location: Santa Maria, California
Sideways location: Miles and Jack tour Santa Barbara’s Wine Country: Santa Maria, California | Photo: Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau

Moving on, Miles and Jack cheekily help themselves to full glasses at Foxen Winery, 7200 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria – and we’ll be back to Santa Maria yet again. The next stop, where Jack meets the flirtatious Stephanie (Sandra Oh), is Kalyra Winery, 343 North Refugio Road, Santa Ynez.

Sideways location: Santa Ynez, California
Sideways location: Miles and Jack tour Santa Barbara’s Wine Country: Santa Ynez, California | Photo: Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau

Three of the foursome enjoy dinner at Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant, 2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, where Miles (“I am not drinking any fucking Merlot!”) phones his ex.

An awkward romance blooming, Jack goes bowling with Steph and her daughter at Ocean Lanes, which stood at 1420 East Ocean Avenue, Lompoc, before being demolished; and plays golf with Miles at River Course at the Alisal, Alisal Guest Ranch, 150 Alisal Road, Solvang.

The barrel room, into which Jack, Miles and Maya sneak from a particularly boring lecture, is Firestone Winery, 5000 Zaca Station Road, Los Olivos. Things are starting to look up for Miles as he and Maya enjoy a stroll through Lompoc Farmers’ Market, Ocean Avenue and l, Lompoc.

The much-derided winery lurking behind the fake name ‘Frass Canyon’ (“frass’ is fly shit, and no, of course the winery isn’t that bad), where Miles discovers his novel isn’t going to be published and attempts to drink the spit-bucket, is the Visit: Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, 6200 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos. Fess Parker, you might remember, was Davy Crockett in a couple of Disney films in the 50s. Oh, and Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is in Los Olivos.

There’s consolation for Miles at Gaviota State Beach, Highway 101, 33 miles west of Santa Barbara, but more problems for Jack when he gets involved with married waitress Carri who works at AJ Spurs, 350 East Highway 246, Buellton.

Back home, and spiralling into deeper depression after meeting his ex at Jack’s wedding, Miles surreptitiously downs his precious 1961 Cheval Blanc from a plastic cup, with a burger and onion rings, not in ‘San Diego’ at all, but back in Santa Maria, at Orcutt Burger, 1785 South Broadway. Maybe not as bad as it seems – Orcutt has a reputation as the best burger joint in the area.

And those ostriches? You can see them at Ostrich Land, 610 East Highway 246 between Buellton and Solvang. The really good news – these ostriches are not raised to be eaten.