Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sonoma County's Wineries 2 ~ Francis Ford Coppola

Sonoma County is almost as long as it is wide and visiting all the wineries in this region would take a long time as they are nestled among four main valleys -- the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley, plus nine other appellations. There are more than 55,000 acres in Sonoma County planted with grapes, and approximately 200 wineries in all.

The history of the wine industry in Sonoma begins when the Franciscan Fathers traveled north through California in the late 1700's to early 1800's, establishing missions a day's journey apart, from San Diego to Sonoma. By the time California became a state in 1854, wine grapes were an established part of agriculture in the region.  The vineyard of General Mariano Vallejo, the military Governor of Mexican California, were producing an annual income of $20,000. In 1855 the man considered "The Father of California Wine Industry," was an Hungarian Count named Agoston Haraszthy who purchased the Salvador Vallejo vineyard in Sonoma Valley, renamed it Buena Vista, and soon began producing fine wines from the vineyard. In 1861 he was commissioned by the California legislature to study viticulture in Europe. He returned to Sonoma County the following year with over 100,000 cuttings of prized grape varietals from France, Italy and Spain. Haraszthy is credited with first promoting the concept that fine table wines could be produced in Sonoma County as well as Europe.

With so many wineries to choose from we had to narrow our visits down to about ten in all. In my last post I showed you the very beautiful Ferrai-Carano Winery.  One of the most interesting we visited was the newly renovated Francis Ford Coppola Winery located in the Alexander Valley at 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, California.

Although still under construction, it was an impressive sight to see! As you may know Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter as well as vintner. He is primarily known for directing the movies "Godfather Trilogy,"  "Apocalypse Now,"  "Dracula", and "The Conversation," and for writing "Patton."

Coppola has said: "When I make a movie, I always have a theme. Sonoma's theme is 'life.' Life with a joyous, Italian family feeling." Coppola's family made wine over many generations beginning with his grandfather who had hand constructed vats in his apartment basement in New York City. They believed wine was a fundamental part of family gatherings along with good food.

The tasting bar area, Rosso and Bianco wines are pored gratis, while there is a fee for tastings of his more sophisticated wines such as his reserves and his Diamond Collection and Director's Cut.

His visitors center is full of movie memorabilia! This display case contained some of his many awards.

Costumes used in some of his movies.

The desk where Marlon Brando sat when he played the Godfather Don Corleone.

Looking down the balcony of the visitor's center at the beautiful red car used in the movie "Tucker: the Man and His Dream." You can also see some of the gift shop items in the background.  All photos will enlarge if you click on them once, and then again when they open on a new page.

More beautiful gift shop items.

We visited during an early dinner hour and so we decided to dine at Rustic, his on site restaurant.

On such a beautiful day we asked to be seated at an outdoor table.

The outdoor tables sit on a terrace overlooking some of Coppola's vineyards.

Rustic's menu can be seen in its entirety here.  Our dinner began with a piece of  fried bread presented in extra virgin olive oil, sort of savory zeppole instead of the usual bread. It was so good I could have eaten many more of them! We ordered a bottle of Diamond Cut Merlot wine which was to be a perfect accompaniment for our dinner selections. My husband and I shared an appetizer of Crispy French Fried Zucchini. They were hot, salty and delicious.  Deciding to try pasta dishes I ordered "Bombola Con Broccolie Salsiccia" (pasta with broccoli rape and sausage), and my husband had Rigatoni and Meatballs. Both were very good and filling although my husband told me he preferred my style of sauce and meatballs.  I guess after soon to be 36 years of marriage he would have to! For dessert we shared a vanilla panna cotta (heavy cream pudding) with raspberry sauce that was heavenly, and we each had an espresso.

It was just so relaxing to dine looking at such a beautiful view that I believe anything we ate would taste good!

At Francis Ford Coppola Winery, all 24 planted acres are sustainably farmed and part of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program. They only purchase fruit from growers who farm sustainably, and some of the vineyards they source from are certified organic as well. Cory Beck is the Director of Winemaking and General Director.

Eventually The Francis Ford Coppola Winery will be a place which entire families can visit and enjoy as there will be two swimming pools and twenty-eight European-style personal changing rooms called "cabines." There will also be a pool cafe available which will serve summertime fare. Also in construction is a Pavilion which will be a platform for all kinds of entertainment at the winery, from daytime performances, which can be viewed poolside, to romantic evening music. Finally there will be four regulation-sized bocce courts and a park which also feature game tables for classic card and board games such as backgammon, chess and checkers. The bocce and all board games are available to use free of charge all day long!

It is a very ambitious plan but who else but an epic movie director would include such amenities in his winery? It will certainly live up to its motto of "Wine Food and Adventure"!  We can't wait to visit it again some day!

I'm linking up with Claudia at the blog Dippity Road for Friday "Finding Beauty" and Sandi at the blog The Whistlestop Cafe  for"Friday Favorites ♥ Linky Party♥"  Please visit their blogs and join in all the fun!


Bookmark and Share


myletterstoemily said...

i am always amazed at your beautiful,
inspiring, and informative posts. they
are always a feast for the eyes, and
frequently have my stomach growling.

my husband and i have only taken one
trip to that lovely land of vineyards
but we remember it fondly.

so happy you enjoyed it with your
husband of 36 years! what a wonderful
thing to still love the one you first


Proud Italian Cook said...

We never made it to Coppola's winery when we were there, after seeing your post I won't miss it next time! Amazing food and views.
So cool to see Don Corleone's desk too!

Cheryl D. said...

Sounds like a great winery to visit! I'd love to see the movie memorabilia. How fun!

GailO said...

...I especially loved sitting at your table and enjoying your meal with you! What a wonderful view and what incredible food...I think I gained a couple of pounds just looking:)

Ginny Hartzler said...

What a fabulous tour you've given me!! And how completly different this is from the last one! Some of the pictures, you would never guess it is a winery! The tasting bar is beautiful! And I'm so glad you showed the food!! The restaraunt looks beautiful, I would have chosen outside, as well.

pam said...

What a beautiful setting. That is quite a winery. I need to go looking for a bocce set. We played at a family reunion this summer and I fell in love with the game all over again. Your hubby is sweet to choose your cooking...and 36 years..that's precious!

Claudia said...

Oh my goodness-- what a wonderful visit you shared with us!

I bet this was soooo much fun.

I need to get myself to a wonderful winery and this looks so inviting to have the winery and the movie ties!

I love so much of his work -- this would be so fun.

Thanks so much for joining with us hon!


Anonymous said...

"Coppola Coppo;a that name sounds familiar." I mused then you explained. What a fantastic place to visit. I love the unusual plans for it -so family orientated and something for everyone.

Jojo said...

Wine and movie memorabilia - it just doesn't get much better than that!

Gracie said...

What an interesting combination, movies and wine! Thanks for sharing your adventure and bringing us there with you!

Rettabug said...

What a fabulous, FABULOUS tour, Pat!! I'm so envious of all that you're getting to see & do.
I'm head over heals in love with that lace dress from some movie of FFC. TDF!

We got to do a wee bit of Sonoma a few years ago...had a special dinner at the Beringer winery with one of the owners.
I'm sorry now that we didn't take in the FFC winery. Oh we'll have to go back! LOL

Did you do the train ride?? We missed that, too & I've kicked myself ever since. I will get back there one day, for sure & I'll do it all.
Thanks for taking us there along with you. Enjoyed the trip very, very much.


diane b said...

These are beautiful wineries and your lunch and view looked divine.We used to belong to a wine group and we travelled to many wineries in Australia and Europe but alas never in California.

A Garden of Threads said...

Sound like a wonderful place to visit, thank you for sharing all the information. Great post. Enjoy your weekend.

Tracy said...

Oh, WOW... this is almost too much to take in, Pat... so much feasting for the eyes alone, can only imagine all the delight experiencing for real! The food has me sooo hungry...LOL! Movies, wine, food... a great date day! ;o) This was wonderful fun, my friend. Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

Vee said...

You never disappoint. Always something of great interest here... So FF Coppola needed someplace to show off costumes, cars, and desks and a winery seemed like a good idea. :D It sure looks like it is thus far. I had to take a better look at the meal...oh heavenly...and, you're right, with that view, it surely must've tasted all that much better.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I am definately going there the next time I go back to the wine country. It looks like a wonderful place. I love Napa and Sonoma so much. I went there before I went to Italy or France. While in Italy and France, I kept thinking how much the wine country in Ca was modeled after France and Italy's wine countries.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Wow Pat.... Francis Ford Coppola is building a fabulous place out there, isn't he? It's seems like it is going to be an amusement park --instead of a winery... BUT--that guy has the money to do anything he wants to do.

The winery looks fabulous... SO did your meal! I'm so glad you all got out there --and I enjoyed seeing those wineries... I've heard about them for years --and have never been there.

Thanks so much for the gorgeous pictures.

Maggie said...

What a fabulous post, the photo's are stunning.
It looks like a great place to visit, the movie memorabilia and the restaurant pix had me drooling!
Have a beautiful weekend.

La Petite Gallery said...

WHEEE! what a fun time you had.
That diner sounded so good. I like broccoli rabe and pasta. The fried zucc, is my favorite.
I enjoyed this adventure.
5 oscars still thinking..

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - This is one of my favorite wineries in Sonoma. I've been there a couple of times and can't wait to see the place when it's fully renovated. I'm so glad you and your husband had the opportunity to take such a great trip.

Carol said...

What a fantastic winery! I had no idea how ambitious it was! I've had his wines, they are good!

Another fun post!

How did you fare in that horrible storm from last night? Scary from the news.

Anonymous said...

This is my first visit to your wonderful blog via Finding Beauty but I will be back. Thank you for sharing your trip to Coppola's Winery. I have added it to my 'places to go/things to do' list! What a magical dining experience -- such a beautiful view.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I would love to visit this place Pat. Your photos and description are fabulous!

Thanks so much for finding the new Back Porch. I truly appreciate it. This has been an interesting week, to say the least.

Judy said...

A feast for the right! What a beautiful place to sit outdoors and enjoy fabulous food. I'm smiling at your 'share plan' for sampling many menu items. We like to do that as well!

Thanks for the informative tour once again.

Renée said...

What a glorious post. I like this part of the country like I do NYC! Thanks for sharing your amazing pics and such a beautiful place.

steviewren said...

Love the photo of the vineyards...the view was sublime! Such a beautiful day too! I'm sure the extra dimension of seeing Coppola's movie memorabilia added to your adventure. Dinner looks yummy. What a nice day. Again, I wish I was there with you!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Just color me merlot red with envy. Your photos are amazing~ a beautiful time!
Another friday's favorite for sure!

Old Kitty said...

Wow!! Well I never!! I never thought Mr Copolla had a vineyard or ten! Look at his place! My goodness! I love that it's also a sort of museum for his films - fantastic!

Oh and of course your sauce meatballs are much better!! Of course!! :-)

Rustic looks lovely - I love the view over the vineyards and the bottle of Coppola wine - that must be a collector's item mustn't it?!?! It's going to be a really good place to stay once the whole complex is finished. This is a complete eye opener for me - having only known the Coppollas as Hollywood artists!

And thank you so much for the info on the wine history of Sonoma - very interesting - esp about Count Agoston Haraszthy - a person worth reading up on!

Have a lovely Friday, Pat!
Oh I have to say - the close up pic of the bunch of grapes is a STUNNER!

Take care

nanny said...

I would love to visit Coppola Winery!!! It looks so very interesting. I love the silver label merlot!!!

Your pictures are wonderful as usual!!!

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

Thanks for taking us along on your visit to the winery/museum. Your lunch looked delicious and I am sure the wine was.

Frances said...

Oh my word, Pat. Your postings are always so full of history and informative tidbits of information that are so fascinating. And then you shower us with such beautiful photographs, making us feel as if we may actually have been right there with you for a few moments. I'm so glad you and your husband got to have such an amazing vacation in California. Your life is so rich and full. It's such a joy to visit and see what new things are happening. Warm thoughts to you ....

Linda Lou said...

What a beautiful winery and everything that I saw makes me want to visit right now- my husband spent his summers in Sonoma at his grandmother's country "cottage" - or shack as he describes it - we were in Sonoma last Easter-I definitely want to visit Coppola's winery next time we get up there!

mrs. c said...

Lovely photos and I feel as though I have been on the trip with you. We went to southen california several years ago and I loved it. If you have not seen the movie "Bottle Shock" when you get home watch it! It's about the beginning of the california wine business.

Anonymous said...

Pat, your vacation was amazing. I have always wanted to tour the wineries of just gave me the closest look I just might ever have!! Thank you for the grandest time! L, Dana

Shirleyanne said...

What a wonderful place to visit! Definitely more than just a winery.
You certainly have the most of your vacation. Beautifully captured!

Donna said...

What a beautiful place. We visited Sonoma years ago and I loved it. Looks like you had a wonderful time.


Elettra said...

much history of cinema in the vineyard of mr.Coppola dear Pat, is a director who love always wanted to tell you that the old houses you saw in my post are in Reggio Calabria, my hometown, which is the country of your husband ?

The Gathering Place said...

Looks like another fun vacation with beautiful photos! What a fun place to visit.

Trotter said...

Hi Pat! Great to have some time to land here...
Amazing to see Coppola on the wine business... OK, he left his daughter in the movies... ;)
Bringing grapes from Europe is ok; the problem is that a great wine needs more than the grapes... ;)

Blogtrotter Two is showing a wonderful site for your holidays: Costa Smeralda!! Enjoy, leave your comment and have a great Sunday!

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

How wonderful that he has props from his movies there too! Such a great, personal touch!

It all looks so beautiful...even the gift shop!!!

Kat said...

This looks like an amazing place to visit. The view from your dining area is just gorgeous. What a fun tour, and as always, your photos are beautiful. I'm more of a water person, but I could definitely learn to love this scenery. Thanks for the cyber vacation :)

MightyMom said...

WOW!! I don't drink wine and so have never wanted to visit a winery...but cooollll beans!!! (or grapes?) that's a neat place to visit! and beautiful!

thanks for stopping by my adventure tour! come on back anytime!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

I am always amazed at your exquisite photography and posts. I spend a good amount of time up in wine country and absolutely adore it. You have certainly captured the essence of the area. Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

PS. Can you tell I'm a fan of your blog!!!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What an amazing trip! That would be a dream to visit that area and see the things you've seen! I'm so glad you share your photos with us! ♥

RNSANE said...

What a wonderful day you had, Pat. Beautiful weather for your visit to the Bay area and parts north. I haven't visited Coppola. My girlfriend from Minnesota is here tomorrow overnight - she used to live in Santa Cruz and was, in fact, the original trainer of all the CA forensic nurses till the state took it on. She'll be headed up to Napa on Tuesday and I would go with her but the Radiance of the Seas is in town overnight and I've been invited on board to spend the day and have dinner.

This was a spectacular post but, then, you never do anything half way.