Napa vintners commonly resort to bold adjectives to promote their wines, but “supernatural” and “dangerous” have never been among them.
That’s about to change.
NBC is planning a supernatural prime time soap opera, “Vines,” set in the Napa Valley, according to Curt King, senior vice president at Universal Media Studios. NBC bought the script last week.
The show, which has yet to be made into a pilot, follows a troubled family who buy a Napa Valley vineyard in hopes of a fresh start. Little do they know their “ancient vines possess dangerous mystical powers,” writes entertainment website Deadline.com.
This wouldn’t be the first soap set in the Valley. From 1981 to 1990, TV viewers tuned into CBS Friday nights to watch “Falcon Crest” right after “Dallas.” Like “Vines,” Falcon Crest featured a troubled family that owned a vineyard. But it was the matriarch who was diabolical — not the grapes.
As soon as news of the series scattered across the blogosphere, commenters poked fun at the description.
Napa resident Dan Monez, Napa’s retired police chief, chimed in. “Having lived in the Napa Valley most of my adult life, I can tell you that every winery thinks their vines have mystical powers,” Monez commented on Deadline.com. “Just ask a winemaker ... or a wino.”
The “Vines” story was originally conceived as a feature film by writer Mark Kruger, but will be adapted as a series with the help of producers Michael Aguilar of Dos Tontos production company and Takashige Ichise, who produced the original Japanese “Ring” and “Ring 2.”
Ichise has experience transforming the seemingly innocuous — formerly girls, now grapes — into something gripping and horrific.
But just because NBC bought the “Vines” script doesn’t mean it will run the series. Recently, a few reality TV shows have suggested Napa Valley-based projects, but none have followed through, said Jennifer Putnam, executive director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers. She questions if “Vines” will make the cut.
“It’s not clear to me how ancient vines could possess mystical powers,” Putnam said. “Typically, we are really proud of the history of our vines, and old vines certainly make wonderful wines, but I’ve never heard of them possessing mystical powers.
“I’m curious to see how this plays out,” she said.
Other Napans protested the menacing aspect of the grapes. Celeste Carducci, a Napa resident for 22 years and owner of the McClelland-Priest Bed and Breakfast Inn in downtown Napa, was enthusiastic about the series until she heard that the vines were evil.
“Mystical sounds fun; dangerous, I’m not so sure,” she said. “I don’t know if scary and treacherous would apply because we’re a huge tourist destination.”
But notoriety isn’t necessarily bad for Napa’s economy. Andy Beckstoffer, owner of Beckstoffer Vineyards for 40 years, said he’s fine with dangerous, “just so long as they’re sexy, I don’t care.”
“We’ve had ‘Falcon Crest’ and Rock Hudson, so what else can they do to us?” asked Beckstoffer, referring to the 1959 movie “This Earth is Mine” starring Hudson. “There’s that saying, ‘Say whatever you like, as long as you mention me.’”