Wine is to Northern California what Francis Ford Coppola is to film. Lucky for us, Coppola is just as involved in California’s wine country as he is in Hollywood’s eminent film industry. In Napa Valley and Sonoma County, there are two gorgeous wineries owned and run by Francis Ford Coppola and his wife of forty-four years, Eleanor Coppola. They are exquisitely set amongst some of the most beautiful property in Northern California. Rubicon Estate in Napa Valley and Rosso & Bianco in Sonoma County are arguably the most famous wineries in California- not because of their five-time academy award winning celebrity owner; the grapes grown and wine produced on these two estates are excellent.
RUBICON ESTATE – RUTHERFORD, NAPA VALLEY
1991 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California 94573
Tel: 1-707-968-1100 www.rubiconestate.com
In 1975, Mr. and Mrs. Coppola took their first step into California’s wine world with the purchase of a section of the famous Inglenook property in Rutherford – set in beautiful Napa Valley. Over the past 30 years, from the very first vintage Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot) produced in 1978, Francis and Eleanor Coppola patiently have taken Rubicon Estate to an ultra-exclusive level in winemaking. This 235-acre estate is breathtaking; the vineyards – basking in the California sun – include Cabernet, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and even six acres of white Rhone. This special white Rhone variety of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier, produces Rubicon Estate’s certified organic flagship wine, Blancaneaux ($40). The vines, now over ten years old, bring extra depth and viscosity to the grapes that earlier years could not produce. The growing conditions are ideal because there are morning sunshine and afternoon shade, which lengthens the growing time, whilst preserving the acidity.
In fact, all of Rubicon Estate is organically farmed, certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers Association and by the Federal Department of Food and Agriculture. Francis and Eleanor Coppola are passionate about the role of organic farming in their wineries. Eleanor says, “When we became owners of this beautiful land we committed ourselves to take care of the Earth by farming organically.” Not only is organic farming good for the environment, but it also produces superior grapes – giving the Rubicon Estate wines a distinctively pure and eco-friendly Californian identity while being able to compete with the big boys from France.
“Our goal is to make one of the world’s great wines,” says Francis Coppola, “and that starts with the best grapes. For most of its existence, this Estate has been farmed organically–we are upholding that tradition.” From the way the grapes are organically farmed to the aging process – using 100% French oak or American oak barrels – that takes place in the massive underground caves, to the interior design at Rubicon, Francis and Eleanor Coppola are not just lending their name or celebrity status to California wine country. For a good part of the year, Francis and Eleanor reside in a home nestled far back into the hillside overlooking the vineyards of Rubicon Estate; this home is unrecognizable to the naked eye. The overall attention to aesthetic details at Rubicon Estate reminds you that a film director’s vision has created this luxurious experience for you: wine tasting that is all about the wine but much more. The drive into the beautifully manicured grounds of Rubicon Estate is absolutely breathtaking. The flowers, trees, shrubbery, and the Estate itself will remind you that the trip across the Pacific was worth it. Special tours are available – only in small and intimate groups – from wine and food pairing, hands-on experiences to even historical themed tours. “Our objective is to elevate the experience for guests interested in the wines and history of this Estate. Our new VIP guest policy will reduce crowds, and guests enjoy a level of elegance and attention rarely available at other wineries,” said Coppola.
There is a $25 visitor’s fee, which does not include private tours or special events. For reservations, visit www.rubiconestate.com/site.php.
ROSSO & BIANCO – GEYSERVILLE, SONOMA COUNTY
300 Via Archimedes, formerly Souverain Road, Geyserville, Sonoma, California
Tel: 1.707.857.1400 www.ffcwinery.com
If Rubicon Estate is all about an elegant and stately wine tasting experience, Rosso & Bianco – Francis Coppola’s newest winery in Sonoma County – is all about casual chic and down to earth Italian ambiance. In March of 2006, Francis and Eleanor Coppola expanded their presence in Northern California wine country to neighboring Sonoma County. Its official name is “Francis Ford Coppola presents Rosso & Bianco.” Set in Geyserville, Sonoma County, Rosso & Bianco is an entirely different experience than the one at Rubicon Estate. Both wineries do not reference each other in any shape or form, and the only thing they have in common is their owner’s discerning care and consideration for the quality of wine produced at each winery.
The winery is named after the table wines that Coppola has been producing since 1997. With the newly named Rosso & Bianco Sonoma winery came a hip new image for the popular table wines ($11) that have played an important role throughout Coppola’s life. “My family has always made wine. To hear it from my Uncle Mikey, these were not fancy wines, but everyday wines, wines that were on the dinner table each night. When I make a movie, I always have to have a theme. Sonoma’s theme is ‘life.’ Life with a joyous, Italian family feeling.” Rosso & Bianco has a cheerful feel, full of sunshine, abundant flowers, and gorgeous vineyard views. Walking around the peaceful and gorgeous European style mansion, you may not realize the numerous changes that are happening at Rosso & Bianco.
Francis Coppola has a vision for this breathtaking and charming winery; we must be patient because eventually, the courtyard will include outdoor cafés, music and dancing pavilions, fountains, pools and much more. Coppola’s five Oscars are on display in the East wing, and eventually, a tasting room with a selection of Coppola’s private film memorabilia will be on display. You can taste the wine in the main store at the entrance of the estate, shop for bottles or cases of wine, yummy pasta sauces, olive oils, Francis Ford Coppola memorabilia and then step out to the terrace – overlooking the vineyards. The terrace is home to a lovely outdoor café, cleverly called “Unnamed Café.” In the future, its identity will be revamped and revealed – bringing a whole different concept and menu to the table. Unnamed Café has an absolutely gorgeous menu full of lovely pizzas, pasta, antipasto, and paninis. This Italian comfort food is best paired with a glass or bottle of wine from the Rosso or Bianco table wines, Sofia (named after his famous director daughter), Diamond Collection, Director’s Cut or the FC Reserve. The Director’s Cut Zinfandel 2005 ($23) is one of Francis Coppola’s favorite wines currently, and it has recently been rated 90 points. It is 100% Dry Creek Zinfandel blended with a small amount of Petite Sirah; it’s great with tomato sauce pasta, burgers, and duck. These days, any of the Director’s Cut wines are in vogue in the hippest American cities – the zoetrope band that encircles the bottle is another unique way Francis Coppola creatively integrates film and wine at Rosso & Bianco. A zoetrope was used in a 19th-century invention to create the illusion of moving pictures. Restaurants and lounges all over California and New York are having a hard time keeping the Director’s Cut wines in stock!
At the foot of the terrace is a special vineyard that Francis Coppola reserves for all employees at Rosso & Bianco to grow their own grapes and use to make their own wine. Wine educator, Kim Caffrey says that Francis wants all employees to understand the painstaking process of growing grapes, harvesting them and then making wine; he believes everyone at Rosso & Bianco will have a better understanding of how the final product comes to fruition. She says that Francis has the final say before a product is made available to the public – that all wine must be tested and approved by him. “We truly do aspire for the highest quality in all we do,” says Coppola. “It is our intention to have great wines and a great winery experience here at Rosso & Bianco winery.”
There is no visitor’s fee for Rosso & Bianco.