Netflix’s “Wine Country” looks set to show Amy Poehler and friends running wild in Sonoma. Their antics, however, have nothing on these real-life shenanigans

Netflix's Wine Country with Rosé
Courtesy of Netflix

When Paul Giamatti drank from the spit bucket in 2004’s Sideways, it marked the ultimate in pop-culture wine-tasting outrageousness. Now Netflix’s Wine Country is arriving to possibly up that ante. The movie, directed by Amy Poehler—who stars alongside Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Ana Gasteyer, among others—revolves around her character’s attempt to celebrate her 50th birthday in Sonoma, and the trailer suggests there may be drinking-related bad behavior involved, from slapstick serenading to tumbling down small mountains. To Napa and Sonoma insiders, however, reality is stranger than fiction: We spoke to anonymous veterans of the scene about the wildest things they’ve witnessed in their tasting rooms—in other words, what wine tourists should definitely not do, no matter how tipsy they get.

1. The Spit Bucket Is Not a Drinking Vessel

“A group of 10 people were laying out $100 bills on the tasting-room bar. Initially, we thought it was an awesome tip, but they were betting someone to drink from the spit bucket at the end of the tasting.”

2. It’s a Tasting, Not a Frat Party

“We watched two friends challenge each other to a drinking contest. They managed to consume five bottles of champagne between the two of them.”

3. No Napping in the Tasting Room

“A man fell asleep at the table mid-tasting, charcuterie still in hand. When he woke up, he nonchalantly asked about the clonal selection for the single vineyard poured in his glass before nap time.”

4. No Napping in the Bathroom

“A couple had been at a barrel tasting, and later that evening I saw the man, who was very distressed. His wife had been missing for an hour. I noticed the line for the restroom and assumed she was the culprit. I couldn’t find a key, so had to call the police. They knocked, no answer, so they planned to knock down the door with an updated version of a log. They were thrusting it back and forth to gain momentum and after the count of two, the door opened. The woman was standing in the door, pants around her ankles, asking, ‘What’s the problem?’ and then asked her husband for a drink. She had woken from a glorious nap on the toilet.”

5. No ____ing in the Bathroom

“Two women and one man were getting frisky in the bathroom. There was an insane line, so we finally intervened. One of the women was trying to escape getting caught by climbing out the window and got stuck.”

6. The Winery Is Not for Sale

“A very intoxicated lady wandered into the tasting room at closing, cocktail in hand, talking about how beautiful the space was. She then tells me her husband will definitely be purchasing our space, which was not for sale, not even a little bit. She then started yelling, ‘My husband is gonna buy this building,’ to all of the guests. I kindly asked her to leave and had the bartenders call the sheriff. She and her husband drove off. I left an hour later only to find the highway patrol pulled them over after they had high-centered their car off the side of the road, on their way back to the bar they had just been 86’d from.”

7. Get Your Vinotherapy Fix at the Spa

“I had given a group of very rowdy guests a tour and tasting in our barrel room. We were in the midst of harvest. Two of the guests disappeared. After a good 20 minutes of searching we found them trying to climb into one of the stainless-steel fermenters. The woman claimed she thought they were there for vinotherapy treatments.”

8. The Décor Is Not Included

“Guests constantly try to sneak off with our glasses. It’s always obvious. But we’ve had people try to steal valuables, like antiques. One man took a painting off the wall—no discretion—and tried to walk out with it under his arm, claiming he was buying it. Another guy tried to roll a marble statue out of the garden. We usually are able to follow them onto the buses to get things back.”

9. Spitting Is Fine, But Keep Your Teeth in Your Mouth

“I’ve gotten used to people spitting their gum in napkins and leaving it on the bar, but we had one guest remove her fake set of teeth at a packed bar and place them on the napkin next to her wine glass and charcuterie. She didn’t want to stain them purple, she explained.”

10. Keep Your Clothes On

“We had a busload of graduating sorority sisters flock into the tasting room all suited in their itty-bitty springtime rompers after tasting what may have been a literal barrel of wine at previous stops. One returned from the restroom, strutting out with all of the confidence of Beyoncé, with one arm barely through the tiny sleeve, nipple on display.”