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by Fred McMillin
Francis Ford Coppola, The Vintner
The Rest of the Story
Milestones of the Niebaum-Coppola Winery
1889—Capt. Niebaum cast a very long shadow, indeed. It reached all the way to Paris. At the Wine Exposition of 1889, his Napa Valley Inglenook wines won a special award for overall "excellence and purity."
1975—Francis and Eleanor (she's a native Californian) bought the historic Niebaum home and its 85-acre vineyard. He would return to the simple, rural life of his Italian ancestors, growing grapes and occasionally run off to make another movie. After all, the Godfather had financed the purchase of the Napa Valley property, and directing was in his blood.
Now just a minute. Francis Coppola casts a very long shadow, too. He's a creative genius who operates on a huge scale. Imagine him watching the explosion of Napa wine production and quietly selling his ultra-premium Rutherford Bench grapes to other vinters! Not a chance. Just three years later, he's making wine.
The plan was in time to produce 6,000 cases a year. Sure, sure. Today, Niebaum-Coppola production is about 110,000 cases, including two very affordable models introduced just four years ago. Here they are.
"When I was a child, the happiest times for me were the family get-togethers. There were uncles, aunts and cousins...there was laughter and plenty of kids. We were all united around the table with Italian dishes and wine. When you look back, those everyday meals turned out to be the most memorable."
Consequently, under the label "Coppola Presents" there is a white and red, affordable, flexible, for everyday meals.
Coppola Bianco (white)
Coppola Rosso (red)
Contacts: Winery—(707) 968-1100, Fax (707) 963-9084; New York—Office of Kathleen Talbert,(212) 675-5525, Fax (212) 627-8458
Postscript—You Can't Take the Director Out of the Winery
In the formative years of the winery, the winemaker wanted to use the top floor of the old Niebaum coach house to store barrels of aging wine. Francis said he wanted to use it as a recording studio and film projection room. "Is this a winery or a film studio," asked the winemaker.
He found out. A year later the projection room was there and the winemaker wasn't!
For Your Summer Reading—July-August 2001
This page created July 2001