Bravo's Oral History: The #RHOC Wine Toss That Started It All

RHOC Housewives, producers, and the director spilled what was really happening behind the scene of that infamous wine toss.

It's been nearly four years since the wine toss heard 'round Orange County. When Tamra Judge confronted Jeana Keough at a Season 6 finale party about things she had been quoted as saying in the press, no one (not production or any of the Housewives) expected the argument to end in such a dramatic fashion. To celebrate the Season 10 finale of The Real Housewives of Orange County, we reached out to producers, the show's director, and a few 'Wives to relive one of the most memorable finales in Bravo history. 

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): My responsibility was to watch the monitor and take note of all the different conversations going on. When we went back into post [production], it was easier to find them when the raw footage was in the system. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): My job was to be in constant communication with all the cast members, so that we could figure out what we were going to shoot on a daily basis. So we would start out the season by sitting with all of the women individually and finding out what they had going on...you know, just big ticket things that were going on in their lives, and they would basically tell me, and then [my executive producer] Pete [Tartaglia] and I would then determine if it was something that we wanted to film or if it was something that didn’t make sense to film. So it was my job to keep tabs on the women so we knew what was coming down the pipe to shoot. 

Tamra Judge (Housewife): Well, from what I can even remember, I was having a lot of issues with Jeana Keough talking to the press about my recent separation. The press always wants to reach out to all of us when something happens, and she was the only one who kept talking to them and giving quotes about my relationship, and I asked her nicely several times to please stop talking to the press. She knew nothing about my marriage or what happens behind closed doors, so just please stop, and she told me she would. So she had stopped for a little while, and then I was actually in Napa with Eddie—he was on a work deal—and my phone started ringing like crazy, and I’m like "What the hell?" and I had to go home the next day, because we were doing the season finale. Somebody—I don’t remember who—called and said “Did you see what Jeana said now?” and I was like, ‘What now?’ and she put out a story basically saying that I used to beat Simon, and I’m like “What?!” and then she said stuff about my children and she had my kids’ names in the press, and I had just had it. So I called my attorney, and he says, “You know what? Why don’t we slap her with a cease and desist.”And I said, “OK.” I said, “Do I have to serve her with it, do I have to have somebody serve her?” and I said if I do, I’m going to do it at the season finale. And he said no, you don’t have to, it would be more powerful if you did, but no cop would film on the show. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): Usually when we shoot our final parties, it’s pretty much all hands on deck, and we split up the crew so that we’re able to cover every single cast member going over to the event. I went out with the camera operator and the audio person to Tamra’s house to cover their pre-BBQ party. And I remember that Tamra was definitely fired up, and she mentioned the [cease and desist] letter and said, “You know I’m bringing this with me.” Once we were ready to leave, we loaded up into the limo and filmed them driving over, and she was definitely, definitely fired up. 

Tamra Judge (Housewife): I’m like, "Well I’m just going to give it to her," and I walked in the party totally pissed off, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be good.

Robert McKinnon (Director on Season 6): I remember everybody arriving and coming sporadically. Most of the people, almost all of them, went out to the pool area. And they had drinks and all kinds of things out there for them, and as usual when they have drinks and everything out there for them, things tend to get a little buzzy. 

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): We have our final party, our final get-together, and all the ladies talk about all the issues that had been going on while filming. And I know that Tamra that season was dealing with stuff with her ex-husband Simon, and we all knew that Jeana had spoken to the press about it and that Tamra was going to confront Jeana about it. We all knew something was going to happen. 

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): Jeana, Tammy [Knickerbocker], and I all kind of went together that day to the party. Jeana already took Tammy and I aside and said, “Well, I want to warn you guys that I said something to Simon, and I don’t know how that’s going to play out, but I just wanted to warn you.” So I didn’t know what that was about until we got inside. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): I know Tamra pretty well, and when she’s fired up, I know that things are going to escalate with her naturally. You know, I didn’t know it was going to get to a point where she was going to throw wine on Jeana. I didn’t know, but I definitely knew she was heated. She was pissed.

Jeana Keough (Former Housewife): It was something [she] planned all day long. You could tell from the previews from the show. So [Tamra] has the biggest glass of wine, and I remember she walked in, and I thought, “Wow, how could she get a big glass of wine?” because I had a tiny one. So, it was planned. She planned it. I think she just wanted to do something for shock value. She got it. She got what she wanted.

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): Whenever there’s a party at Vicki’s house,  we make our video village in her garage. So I was in the garage watching the monitors [at the time of the wine toss]. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): At that time, it was myself and a couple other producers that were sort of on the floor, which you can spot us occasionally, and in that episode I’m actually standing behind a tree in Vicki’s backyard. I remember watching and thinking, “Oh there’s me.” So I was just right there.

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): Well, I saw Tamra with an envelope and she was going off. She looked at me and she said, “I know she’s one of your friends, but blah blah blah Simon blah blah blah,” and I walked away, because when I’m a friend of yours, I’m a friend of yours, and I don’t want anyone to badmouth you, so I kinda left and went over to stand by Jeana because I knew it was all about Jeana and then two seconds later, Tamra came over and started in and accusing her of this and accusing her of that and Jeana was kinda just standing her ground and standing by the pool. 

Tamra Judge (Housewife): Somebody said to me—and I don’t know who it was—"If she gives you a hard time, either push her in the pool or throw your drink on her," and I had that in the back of my head. I kept thinking about it, so when I was with her in that moment and we were fighting, she said, “You better watch it or I’m going to push your skinny ass in the pool.” And when she said that, it almost like triggered in my mind, like push me in the pool or throw a drink on her, and I just instantly threw my drink.  

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): Tamra throwing wine in Jeana’s face, I would never expect that. That’s when I think Tamra changed from being a catty girl to a super villain who everyone loved to hate. I thought Jeana was going to push her in the pool before, so when [Tamra] ended up throwing the wine, everyone gasped. Everyone. It was just unexpected. 

Robert McKinnon (Director on Season 6): The camera man and I were in awe. Our jaws were dropped. But we kept rolling, because we knew it could only get better--or worse. 

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): My mouth opened, and my first reaction was that I wanted to push her in the pool. So my hands were clenched at my side, because I just wanted to react. I just wanted to push her in the pool, the little sh--. And now Jeana has red wine everywhere and the stains don’t come out, it’s in her eyes, and she’s crying, and I was just shocked, really, because who does that kind of thing?

Larry Grimaldi (Producer on Season 6): It was my very first season of producing the RHOC. As a human being, I was mortified at the pushing and the wine throwing. As a wine lover and Italian-American, I was saddened anyone would even consider wasting a good red.  

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): I think when things started to escalate, I kind of cringed a little bit and took my eyes away from it. Because when those moments happen I tend to just look away, because it’s an intense thing, and it’s happening in the moment, and it’s really real. I look away, because I feel like I don’t want to put added eyes on a dramatic situation, so I didn’t’ see it happen, but I could hear Tamra’s voice, and I could hear things escalate. 

Tamra Judge (Housewife): And afterward, I was like, "Holy shit, what did I just do?" And if I remember, I think I just took off running. I just ran, I ran. I took my shoes off and just ran through Vicki’s house. 

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): The strange thing that happened was right after Tamra threw the wine in Jeana's face, Jeana shoved her but [really] accidentally shoved, I think, one of Heidi’s friends, and they got into it. I think the cast was very quick to break it up and then people just started leaving the party. It all happened so quickly that before anyone could do anything, it was over. It was just so unbelievable. If anything, I thought Tamra’s mom was going to get into it because she’s the one who started going in on her. 

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): Yeah a blonde girl was standing there and she had a fit because she got some champagne on her. It was stupid. I was like, “Really? You’re getting all excited because you got a little bit of champagne on you?” and I don’t know who she was, and she started in on me, and I was mad about Jeana, and I didn’t want to be there, because Jeana left, and I didn’t mess with her, and I just felt that I just needed to go see if my friend was OK. 

Robert McKinnon (Director on Season 6): But there was so much animosity that it put everybody into a little clique. The group that likes this group was over here, the group that likes that group was over there, and it made the evening very tense for everybody. Vicki was very upset. Very, very upset. 

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): But then after the incident happened, Jeana left and Tamra went running after her and they went to the front of Vicki’s house and the garage doors were opened and we saw everything go down. Jeana's friend threw a glass at Tamra--that was all kind of in our faces. 

Jeana Keough (Former Housewife): She wanted to make more drama. She said, “Get out of here, nobody wants you.” Well I was invited. Whatever. It was just ugly, and she made it even uglier by running out after me.

Tamra Judge (Housewife): So I was out there and all the sudden she comes out of the side of the house, and I can’t remember if we were yelling at each other or whatever. Her friend threw his wine glass at me, and then we went home. She went to her house, and I went home. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): I probably didn’t even realize what was happening at that point when Jeana walked out. And you know with her friend and the champagne glass got thrown, but I only saw that on the episode. For me, it was just like, “Oh crap something major is going down right now, and I’m just going to stay over here safe.” Camera and audio people know in a moment like that to stay like glue to them. 

Robet McKinnon: We chased [Jeana] because she was so upset, and she didn’t want to have anything more to do with it. And then we went and followed her into her house, and I don’t think we got that much out of it except her crying and the usual. And [back at the party] everybody got a little more drunk than they were and we finished shooting and everybody left. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): I do remember that night we wrapped a lot earlier than we thought we were going to, because the moment had happened. I remember thinking “Wow, we’re almost wrapped already.” This isn’t going to be one of those nights where we’re here until midnight or 1 in the morning. We just wrapped it up. I think we stuck around for a couple hours after.

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): We went out to dinner afterwards with Jeana and her boyfriend, and of course everybody kept calling. I know they were talking about lawsuits, because Jeana couldn’t see for a while, because it was in her eyes. It was not a fun night. And I was stupid and wearing my blonde wig, which I hated.

Tamra Judge (Housewife): I left right after, and I thought, “What have I done? Oh God.” I remember going home, and I had a babysitter at home with the kids, and I said—me and Eddie were just dating—I said, “Can you please spend the night?” And back then he didn’t spend the night with the kids over, and he was like, “Why? What’s up?” and I said, “I have a feeling I’m going to get arrested tonight.” And so I literally left all my makeup on, my false eyelashes, kind of spread my hair out over my pillow all nice, and kind of propped myself up and thought, “Well if they come and get me in the middle of the night, at least I’ll have a good mug shot.” 

Jeana Keough (Former Housewife): I think for two weeks I went to the doctor the day after to get some medicine, but for two weeks I had red eyes. It’s just pure alcohol poured in your eye--it hurts. I had no idea it hurt so much. It was a horrible thing to do to a person. It was embarrassing professionally. I had my clients calling me saying that I’m trending number one on Yahoo. It’s perfect, it’s just what you want to be known for--being attacked by your cast member.

Tamra: I was a little bit afraid. I think I heard from other Housewives that she got wine in her eye and it really, really hurt and possibly I want to say I sent her a text message, basically saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to go that far, but you have to stop talking about my marriage.” I heard that if there was ice in my wine and it hit her in the face, I could have been charged with—I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s true.  

Robert McKinnon (Director on Season 6): But the scene, the wine scene, was, by far, one of the most momentous scenes I’ve seen in all the Housewives. It wasn’t made up. It was truly out of emotion, and disgust, and dislike, and I can honestly assure you that it was not made up. I don’t care what anybody else would say, I was standing there, I was standing within inches of them, and I watched it. And the manner at which they were screaming at each other, I really thought one was going to go into the pool. I really, really did. It was a compelling moment.

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): I don’t remember specifically what we did [the next day], but I do know that there was definitely, definitely some damage control with Jeana. In fact, I remember actually Kara, Jeana’s daughter, texted me, because I was trying to get Kara to go to the party, and I don’t think she was able to. But I remember Kara the next day sent me a text message that was not the most pleasant text message, and I think I might have probably sent Jeana a text saying, "Sorry about what happened, I hope you’re OK." I also felt bad for her, too. That’s a humiliating thing to happen, to have wine thrown at your face, especially in public, especially on camera. At the same time, you know I didn’t know she was going to be walking into that scenario. When I reached out to her to see if she wanted to join at Vicki’s house for the final party, I had no idea that was what was going to go down, so I genuinely did feel pretty bad for her, just because I would never intentionally ask someone to go to that knowing that was the situation.

Tamra Judge (Housewife): I still hear about it, still hear about it. And there’s been a lot of other franchises that have done it since mine—I think I was the first to do that, and I just cringe. 

Robert McKinnon (Director on Season 6): She was, absolutely 100%. Tamra was the first. That was the first time that ever happened. And that was, what, four/five seasons ago? 

Quinn Fry (Former Housewife): I can’t believe she hasn’t brought [the wine toss] up to me since that day, and I know Tamra and Jeana have kissed and made up, but nobody does that to people that are my friends and are still a friend of mine. 

Jeana Keough (Former Housewife): You know what, she’s apologized. I’ve heard her say in other interviews that it’s the lowest point she’s ever sunk to, considering I was just trying to help. I would never do anything but try to help my friend. So, she always felt that I was against her and trying to hurt her, but that’s just because you’re not a smart girl. A smart girl would think about the consequences. You know?

Tamra Judge (Housewife): I would never—well never say never—but I don’t think I would ever do that again. Ever. I was just going through a super bad time, super emotional, so stressed out, and then there’s this woman who kept talking about sh-- in the press that she knew nothing about. And it’s like there’s only so many times you can say, “Please, stop talking to the press. It’s none of your business, you don’t know anything about it. But basically what she was doing, she was being the voice of Simon. So I felt like he was talking to her, because they were still speaking, and whatever he was saying to her, she was putting in the press, so it was so frustrating. We’ve gotten past it, and we joke about it now. She was very sweet. She came to my rescue when I was going through my custody battle, so she couldn’t believe he was doing this to me, and it wasn’t right, so she’s actually been a really good friend. 

Larry Grimaldi (Producer on Season 6): I’m relatively certain that Tamra wouldn’t behave that way today, she’s a completely different person… and she knows better than to waste a drop of wine on her enemies.

Lauren Kaylor (Production Assistant on Season 6): I think I have seen a change in her over the years. When she married Eddie, she definitely calmed down a lot. Everyone may say that Tamra’s this crazy woman, but she loves her children. As a PA, I worked behind the scenes on all the main title shoots and her kids were there and when she wasn’t allowed to film with her kids, she would still bring them to the main title shoots, and I would sit there with her kids. I just could see that her family is super important to her, and she’ll do anything for her family. I think she’s misunderstood in that sense, and I like the fact that she sticks by what she says. She likes to tell the truth, even if it gets her into trouble. Even though this season we see her take on religion, she still wants to be able to tell the truth. Hate her or love her, she is telling the truth. She’s reactional, but her reactions tend to be super big. And she says what everybody wants to say. 

Sally-Anne King (Field Producer on Season 6): It’s funny because Tamra started the show the same time I started the show and you know totally she’s changed over the years, and I’ve seen her have really hard seasons, and I’ve seen her have much better seasons. It changes every season. The season that she was on the last sort of days with Simon, that was probably a hard season for her, and I was basically in the middle of their fights. Literally on the phone with both of them when they were fighting. And Tamra had a rough season on Season 9 because of family stuff that we weren’t really able to cover. She’s much, much, much easier (for me) to handle this season. Just like any other human being in life, you have good times and you have bad times. With [the Housewives], we’re in their homes for good times and bad times, and I think [during this current season] Tamra was in a much more peaceful frame of mind.

 

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Jeana Keough Quinn Fry Tammy Knickerbocker Tamra Judge Vicki Gunvalson