The movie was inspired by the real story of how Steven Spurrier, a British wine-seller in France, helped open up the grape business by encouraging California vintners to enter their wines in a 1976 blind tasting. Rickman plays Spurrier in the movie.
"I had met him, but neither of us was particularly aware of it about five years ago and I have spoken to him subsequently," Rickman told reporters in New York recently. "When I knew I was going to do it, I kind of tracked him down and said, 'What do you think about this?' He was a little horrified, but he let us use his name because I was never going to impersonate him, that was never the point. It's not an accurate portrait of him -- just his place in the story and, I suppose, his energy for want of a better word -- of being an Englishman in the middle of the Napa Valley 30 years ago, which was like landing on the moon, really."
Rickman, who has starred in "Sense and Sensibility," "Galaxy Quest" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," admitted "Bottle Shock" was an irresistible project for him.
"Smartly written, great characters, a beautiful place to go and film it, great friends to work with," Rickman told UPI. "Why say no?"