TIPSY TOURIST: Wine and film at Coppola

The script, still, poster and gold phone passed around in The Godfather II are on display in the Movie Gallery at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

The script, still, poster and gold phone passed around in The Godfather II are on display in the Movie Gallery at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

The car from Tucker dominates the two-level Movie Gallery.

The car from Tucker dominates the two-level Movie Gallery.

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.

At the advice of a Rubicon wine expert we put away the wines bought during our visit. We're saving them for a special anniversary.

At the advice of a Rubicon wine expert we put away the wines bought during our visit. We’re saving them for a special anniversary.

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.

A grand entrance at Francis Ford Coppola's Sonoma winery.

A grand entrance at Francis Ford Coppola’s Sonoma winery.

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.

One of the most famous desks in the world, I would think: the Godfather's.

One of the most famous desks in the world, I would think: the Godfather’s.

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

As the sun began to set, we visited Coppola's vineyards.

As the sun began to set, we visited Coppola’s vineyards.

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7 responses to “TIPSY TOURIST: Wine and film at Coppola

  1. When we have visitors from the east, we always steer them toward Sonoma rather than Napa, with the Coppola winery as the culminating experience. Never fails to impress!

  2. Great post! I was at Coppola in Sonoma right after they bought the winery from Chateau Souverain 10-11 years ago. They’ve done a lot with it. We live in Napa and my next door neighbor works for Francis Ford Coppola at Inglenook, his Napa winery. I’m still hoping to meet him when we tour Inglenook so I can be a total movie fanboy.

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