Fascinated by film, and amazed by Sonoma wines, I had to stop at Francis Ford Coppola’s Sonoma winery on our recent visit to California’s wine country. In fact, reservation at the restaurant on site, Rustic: Francis’s Favorites, was the first I made after making plane and hotel reservations.
It was very nearly the last stop on our six days of wining and dining in these beautiful California valleys. I might have been tired of food and wine. (Is that possible?) I might have just been tired. (We have a tendency to go until we drop.)
But I remember my very first California winery experience, one that changed my life, so I was excited.
You see the very first winery we ever visited in Napa was Coppola’s Rubicon. We didn’t just stop for a tasting. We came for the whole experience, still so memorable. We made an appointment for a wine cave wine tasting. There was a red carpet welcome, a tour of the winery and the vineyards dotted with memorabilia from the famous director’s films. And then an hour learning to taste and appreciate wine. The best lesson: the glass matters.
The visit to Coppola’s Sonoma winery would be different because this winery is different. First, there’s the pool. A big glistening blue pool open to visitors. Families are welcome to come and play in the Sonoma sunshine. Then there’s the casual restaurant with seating in a big, noisy, happy dining room or out on the porch overlooking acres of grapevines. But the best part (besides the wine) is the Movie Gallery. Tucker’s car, the desk from The Godfather, even some of the director’s Oscars are on display in this two-level gallery.
I’ll be honest. We didn’t have enough time to see everything. We arrived well before our dinner reservation to be sure to see the Movie Gallery. But as the sun began to set and the air to cool, we wished for a little more time to stroll the grounds, revel in all those beautiful grapevines.
My advice to you. Go early. Stay late. Drink the wine. Eat the food. And jump in the pool.
ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman