The Inglenook winery is a triumphant tale of loss and restoration, directed by none other than Francis Ford Coppola. And it’s a fun place to visit when you’re looking to entertain and impress your in-laws.
Coppola has moved most of his movie memorabilia over to his Sonoma County property, the Frances Ford Coppola winery. What you’ll find at Inglenook is good wine and some interesting history — the winery goes back to 1880 when it was founded by sea captain Gustave Niebaum, and has gone through some ups and downs.
The winery is on Highway 29 in Rutherford, opposite the Rutherford Grill, and features a gorgeous chateau with an imposing façade softened by tendrils of ivy. If you happen to be a fan of “This Earth is Mine,” the soapy ‘50s wine movie, you’ll spot some familiar landmarks since this is one of the places the movie was filmed.
Inside, there’s a dramatic staircase and exhibits from the winery’s past. The grounds are elegant and there is a wine bar, Mammarella, which also serves coffee drinks and has indoor or courtyard seating around a fountain that comes complete with wooden sailboats for younger guests, or at least the young at heart.
You can sign up for a vineyard walking tour, which is a great way to learn about the wines. Tastings start at $45 per person and last one hour.
The Coppolas were looking for a simple summer home when they first came across the property. It had gone through a succession of owners and had fallen into disrepair. Many of the original vineyards had been sold and the name Inglenook, once associated with California’s earliest premium wines, had been slapped on bottles of plonk. The Coppolas decided to buy the place, embarking on what turned out to be a 25-year project as they reunited the original vineyards and restored the winery in the chateau.
They called the property Niebaum-Coppola and then Rubicon Estate and it soon established a reputation for fine Napa cab. A few years back, Coppola brought the winery full circle when he bought back the Inglenook name.
IF YOU GO:
Address: 1991 Saint Helena Highway, Napa, CA
Phone: 800-RUBICON (782-4266)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Don’t miss: The vineyard walking tour.