Sommelier and wine shop owner Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a British expatriate living in Paris, is to increase his business. He concocts a plan to hold a blind taste-test intended to introduce Parisians to quality wines coming from elsewhere in the world. Spurrier travels to the not-yet-famous Napa Valley in search of contestants for his Judgment of Pairs taste test, where he meets vintner Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) of Chateau Montelena. Barrett wants no part in it, believing it to be a set-up designed by the French to humiliate New World wine producers. Barrett's son, Bo (Chris Pine), secretly passes Spurrier a couple of bottles of the Chateau's Chardonnay for the competition. Pretty and nonconformist university graduate student Sam Fulton (Rachel Taylor) arrives at Chateau Montelena seeking an internship, and is promptly put to work in the vineyards.