Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Back to Burgundy

There are dozens of movies in which drinking wine or making wine are a central theme. There are comedy-dramas, buddy-movies and romance movies about wine. Often how wine is portrayed it not realistic and misleading. There is the fantasy of living on a vineyard, the romanticism of falling in love in a vineyard, the comedy of wine tasting with friends. But very few portray the reality of life on a vineyard, the challenges winemakers face, combined with their passion. The new film Back to Burgundy, a French film by acclaimed director Cédric Klapisch, is all of that and more and that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

I love a movie that engages me, that tells a good story and develops characters that I care about. Add to that a beautiful backdrop and Back to Burgundy is all that and more.

So much of the writing that I do is sharing the stories of people in the wine industry. I meet winemakers around the world and many, especially from European countries, are the third, fourth, fifth, six, seventh, or even more, generation in their family to make wine. They share stories about the land, the place, their families, their histories and their futures.

But when we see a movie, we typically only see the romanticism of living on a vineyard and owning a winery. The reality is that it is hard work,especially physically. It is a business but it is a family business.

Back to Burgundy gets it right. It is a beautiful story about three siblings who reunite at their home in Burgundy to save the family vineyard after their father falls ill. But it is also a realistic story about a life in wine and the movie portrays so many layers of it.

There is Jean, the oldest, who returns home after a decade abroad. Jean had left home to explore the world and is trying to find happiness between his old and new life. There is Juliette, the sister and middle child, who took over the reins of the vineyard after their father fell ill. She is struggling to find her voice and her confidence. Jeremie is the baby of the family who has married into one of the region’s more prestigious wine families. He is trying to find his place and identity. The three siblings are the new generation who are faced with the future of their family property. As the cycle of seasons take place, the siblings each find their place in life as they work to preserve the land that binds them.

The film takes place over two harvests and showcases the beauty of the wine world but also the challenges. It touches on various topical subjects in the wine world. The siblings are faced with an inheritance tax and have to decide how to pay it and what they want for the future. There is the care taken in the vineyard and the choice to be organic. There are the pressures and challenges of making wine, from when to pick to de-stemming to aging and bottling. There are the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. It also shares the joy and celebration of wine.

Back to Burgundy is a charming, entertaining, character-driven movie but it is also insightful. Like a good wine, the film has layers and complexity and that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Every wine lover should see this film.