'Shadows in the Vineyard': DRC True-Crime Story Coming to TV

The shocking 2010 case of ransom and vine poisoning in Burgundy's grandest vineyard is being adapted into a dramatic limited series starring Noah Wyle and Judith Light

'Shadows in the Vineyard': DRC True-Crime Story Coming to TV
Cru Detective (Jean-Luc Petit/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Aug 20, 2020

Burgundy has become the site for the most harrowing tales in wine cinema. A young somm must master grief and Chablis. A devastating frost wipes out a vintage. An international supervillain stages an elaborate yearslong fraud. But few match the potential Pinot (film) Noir intrigue of Shadows in the Vineyard, a true-winecrime drama of vine sabotage and high-stakes ransom on perhaps the most hallowed ground in wine, the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Earlier this month, film companies Landmark Studio Group and District 33 announced that production would soon begin on a story that will strike fear in the heart of any Burgundy lover.

Adapting Maximillian Potter’s book of the same name, the limited TV series Shadows in the Vineyard will dramatize the 2010 exploitation case that rocked the iconic estate and all of Burgundy. In January of that year, co-owner Aubert de Villaine received anonymous letters threatening to poison and destroy DRC’s acclaimed, incalculably valuable vineyard, the Romanée-Conti grand cru monopole, unless a €1 million ransom was paid.

Shadows in the Vineyard cover; Noah Wyle
The 2015 book 'Shadows in the Vineyard,' based on reporting of the crime, provides the foundation for the series. Noah Wyle and Judith Light have signed on to co-star. (Courtesy of Landmark Studio Group)

What followed was a primetime-worthy saga unfolding in the usually quiet Côte d'Or. “Max’s story is many things,” co-producer David Ozer of Landmark Studio told Unfiltered via email. “It is a mystery, a love letter to Burgundy. But I think what the creative team loves is the fact that it is a story of hope—of light triumphing in the face of darkness.” (Spoiler alert: Read our coverage of the scheme from when it happened.) The producers also indicated the story will explore the reporter Potter's own transformative experiences (and new appreciation for wine) gained during his time in Burgundy researching the story.

Production is planned to start in Europe in early 2021, with actors Judith Light and Noah Wyle set to star and executive produce. While specific locations have not been decided yet, the producers would ideally film in real-life Burgundy, they told us. Potter will be revisiting the story as a co-writer of the screenplay, along with Get Shorty writer John Newman and Peter Cambor of District 33. Co-producer Sam Widdoes, also from District 33, told us that his team hopes to involve DRC and Burgundy locals as much as they can. “What the people of Burgundy went through during this event was a real trauma, in many ways,” Widdoes said. “We want to respect that.” (Representatives of DRC declined to comment for this story.)

But it wouldn’t be much of a wine drama without, well, wine. Per Cambor, wine will be “central” to Shadows in the Vineyard; the team will be turning to expert vino consultants to get every element right. “We think that [this] is an incredibly complex, multifaceted story and, like a wonderful grand cru, there is so much to savor here,” Cambor summed. "It needs time to breathe, so as to allow all of these intricate elements to be fully realized.”


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