Ten years after the premiere of "Sideways," the region where the film was set continues to feel its impact.
The independent movie about two middle-aged men drinking and misbehaving their way through Santa Barbara wine country opened in limited release in October 2004 and went on to became a surprise hit, grossing more than $71 million at the box office. It was also a boon to the then-fledgling winemaking industry in the Santa Ynez Valley and a boost to tourism in the region.
“Agriculture and tourism are really two of the big industries that are still important in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast, and wineries live right in the middle of those two,” says Josh Williams, president of Carlsbad-based BW Research, which studies the job market for the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board.
Williams says his research shows the number of jobs in wineries in Santa Barbara County has grown from about 950 in 2005 to nearly 1,400 today. That's huge growth compared with other industry sectors in the county, says Williams, who adds that winery jobs are good jobs.
"While tourism and agriculture tend to be low-wage paying industries, wineries pay anywhere from 30 to 50 percent more than the average tourism job pays," says Williams.
Even though the sector tends to generate lower-wage jobs, there’s no denying the residual effect of increased tourism. It can be the tide that lifts all boats, bringing added customers to nearby retailers, hotels and other enterprises.