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The title of the film Sideways (about two single men’s adventures on a road trip through wine country), refers to:

A. The fact that the men often drink so much, they’re “sideways”

B. The fact that the wine valleys where the film takes place run east-west

C. The fact that the men are such screw-ups, their lives and careers are “sideways”

D. The fact that there’s a lot of unconventional sex in the film

B.

While the protagonists of the film, Miles and Jack, are certainly screw-ups, the title actually refers to geology. Thanks to millennia of shifting by tectonic plates off the mid- and northern-California coast, most of the state’s wine valleys run essentially north-south. But the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys in Santa Barbara County where the film takes place run east-west. Because the western ends are open to the Pacific Ocean, the two coastal valleys act as big wind tunnels funneling cold air inland from the Pacific. Thus, even though the valleys are in the southern, theoretically warmer part of the state, they have some of the coolest temperatures. This makes them ideal regions for grape varieties that thrive in cool environments—notably pinot noir. The 2004 cult film Sideways was named for this fact.

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