Amy Poehler is making her directorial debut with Wine Country, and it’s the Saturday Night Live reunion you’ve been waiting for. With its cast of comedy heavyweights, the new Netflix film tells the story about a group of friend that plan a trip to Napa Valley to celebrate a milestone birthday, but end up going far off track. It sounds like the premise to a funny novel, so is Wine Country based on a book?
It turns out that Wine Country wasn’t made with any literary inspiration, but it was based on a trip the actresses had in real life. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Poehler and co-star Maya Rudolph revealed that the movie — which stars Poehler, Rudolph,Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, and Emily Spivey — was inspired by the wine country trips the group took for Gasteyer and Dratch’s 50th birthday parties.
Poehler told Vanity Fair that the she felt that the hilarious moments from these trips would make for a great movie “not only because these are the greatest, funniest performers,” but also because she doesn’t think there are “enough films that take full advantage of what it’s like to be our age and to be around women that have known you for a really long time but aren’t competing for the same job or the same guy.” Eventually, her SNL writer friends — Spivey and Liz Cackowski — wrote the Wine Country screenplay for Poehler’s production company, Paper Kite, which then sold the film to Netflix.
When talking to Eater San Francisco, Dratch revealed that while some of the over-the-top scenes in the movie were written in for comedic effect, some key moments from her IRL 50th birthday bash in Sonoma Country made it into the film. “The movie is much crazier than the real birthday was,” she said. “But there’s a little inspiration that happened in real life that blew up in the movie.” Dratch also noted that her real friend and chef, Gerard Nebesky — who makes a mean paella and helped organize her birthday celebration — was written into the script as Gerard the Paella Guy (played by Jason Schwartzman).
According to Netflix’s synopsis for Wine Country, Dratch plays Rebecca, a woman who is celebrating her 50th birthday in scenic Napa Valley wine country. Her BFF Abby (Poehler) plans the birthday getaway and invites Rebecca’s closest friends, including the workaholic Catherine (Gasteyer), tired mom Naomi (Rudolph), post-op Val (Pell), and homebody Jenny (Spivey). The group is excited for the chance to reconnect and unwind, but as the wine flows “real world uncertainties intrude on the punchlines and gossip” and the women start “questioning their friendships and futures.”
Wine Country may not have been inspired by a book, but I’ll bet the moments Poehler and her pals shared could easily lend themselves to some form of literary comedy. For now, you can join in on the fun through with their hilarious new film, which premieres on Netflix on Friday, May 10.