Nestled in the picturesque countryside of northern California, south of Geyserville just off the 101, two iconic glass spires glow vividly against the deep blue sky framed by vine studded rolling hills sweeping off into the distance. From a nearby parking lot, guests, as if stepping onto an elaborate movie set, ascend a swooping white stone grand staircase to arrive at a large wrought iron gate emblazoned with the name Francis Ford Coppola Winery (FFCW). The winery, complete with clock tower, is actually more reminiscent of a pre-WWII train station than a traditional Loire-style French Chateau. Its a good thing too since, once inside the gates, Coppola adept at creating experiential destinations, immediate transports patrons to a veritable “wine wonderland.”
What’s a Wine Wonderland?
For those of you wondering what a “wine wonderland” is, start by imagining a cross between a Hollywood Museum, the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, an Italian resort, and a winery and you’re already 95% there.
The facility is a complement to Coppola’s existing Napa winery, the ultra premium, smaller production Inglenook. FFCW has scale and was purchased as a home for Coppola’s “Diamonds,” his FFC Diamond Series Wines to be exact, as well as his other non-estate brands like Rosso and Bianco, FFC Reserve Varietals, and its flagship Archimedes Wines. These wines are made from fruit purchased from growers around Alexander Valley and Sonoma County and are more accessible in youth, fruit forward, and produced at a higher volume than their Napa counterparts. They are the perfect accompaniment to pizza by the pool.
Yes, what wine wonderland could attain such status without 3,500 square feet of heated pools and 28 Italian style private “cabines?” Coppola was inspired to install the pools when he recounted children playing around the fountain at Inglenook “pleading with their parents to allow them to jump in.” Once the littles have jumped in, take a break and order some food and beverages from the pool side staff and trust the first responder trained life guards to make sure you’re children aren’t drowning each other.
Of the cabines, each locks, has a private shower and changing area, comes with a set of towels, and can be reserved by the general public at $125 per cabine. Rental of a cabine includes pool passes however, individual pool passes are also available at $20 for adults and $10 for children.
Additional amenities include a Coppola Movie Memorabilia Gallery complete with “Tucker” car, a replica of the Godfather Pavilion and Don Corleone’s desk, and a magnificent model warship from Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” Many of the pieces are integrated around the property so patrons are encouraged to enjoy little details from Coppola’s films as they taste the wine. There are also regulation bocce ball courts, a retail shop, a restaurant called Rustic and performance pavilion. The production staff, headed up by chief winemaker Corey Beck, emphasizes education and commitment to a better understanding of the wines produced. Employees at FFCW have a small hobby vineyard for botany lightweights and viticultural enthusiasts alike guaranteeing a better ability to convey the nuances of the wine to consumers.
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