Duo sit in 'Judgment' on rags-to-riches wine tale

Producers Clark Peterson (“Monster”) and Elizabeth Fowler are tipping their glasses to California wine.

“Judgment of Paris,” based on journo George M. Taber’s nonfiction tome, will tell the rags-to-riches tale of how Napa Valley wines beat out their French counterparts during a blind tasting contest in 1976. The upset win put the fledgling California wine biz on the map.

Peterson and Fowler have optioned the film rights to Taber’s book, as well as the life rights of wine expert Steven Spurrier. They’ve secured development financing and some production coin from a Napa-based wine and spirits company that declined to be named.

A correspondent for Time magazine, Taber was the only journalist to attend the Paris tasting, which was arranged by Spurrier, then a wine merchant. (He’s now editor of Decanter magazine.)

None of the judges — who were all French — could believe it when they learned they had selected California labels as the winners. The top victors were a 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. The French press called the results “laughable.”

Project marks the second time Peterson and Fowler have teamed. They are set to produce “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three,” based on Mara Leveritt’s book, for Dimension Films.

After producing “Monster,” Peterson joined Charlize Theron’s shingle, Denver & Delilah Films, as head of development and production. He left to form his own banner. Other producing credits include “Behind the Smile.”

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