I visited Coppola Winery and I feel like I’ve been to Disneyland. No kidding, I’ve never seen so much to do at one winery.
Formerly the Chateau Souverain I once knew well, Coppola Winery now is a museum to Francis Ford Coppola’s films, it’s a department store for foodies, a food court and a water park, an amphitheater and a cigar bar. Oh, yeah, they make wine there, too.
Park of Pleasure
At Coppola one can eat, drink, smoke, swim and lounge the day away, as happy as the Rat Pack. And if you’re lucky, you might just bump into the big guy himself, enjoying a sake at the poolside bar.
This is what I learned last month when I tagged along with my daughter Tara and the board of WineAmerica for a dinner at this member winery on the north edge of Sonoma County.
I learned that it only costs $135 for four people to spend the day at Coppola, which includes a cabana room and two flights of wine. This, from the lifeguard who stands around the pool all day and evening, ready to save any drunk who falls in.
Got to say, the Tucker car looks pretty impressive in the room where Chateau Souverain had their tasting room. I wanted to sit at The Godfather desk, or at least lean on it, but was afraid an alarm might go off.
The wine tasting bars are open until a comfortable six o’clock and the gift shop until nine. Civilized.
And, Francis does hang around and sometimes people don’t recognize him. The nice lady who rang up my souvenirs told me that. I bought a bottle of wine, a logo tumbler, and the book, The Godfather Classic Quotes. My favorite is, “This is business, not personal.”
In the downstairs tasting room you can sip wine, peruse cigars, and count skulls stacked in the Apocalypse Now display.
The wine is good too. I was blown away to learn Coppola now makes over a million cases of wine. The winery itself is enormous, and in the barrel room – in which dinner was warmly served by an excellent staff – there were over 7000 barrels stacked around us. The place is so massive, it’s like being inside a wine mothership.
The number of Coppola labels is similarly bewildering.
They make nine tiers: Francis Coppola Reserve, Archimedes, Eleanor, Director’s, Director’s Cut, Diamond Collection, Rosso & Bianco, Sofia, and Votre Santé, as well as Se Yuen sake.
What’s next? Whisky?
Overwhelmed by the selection, I bought only one bottle: FC Reserve 2009 Syrah, Mount’s Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. It’s big and meaty, black and inky. We sipped it over two days and it unfolded with notes of chocolate and earth. Substantial.
I liked that wine a lot better than the FCR Pinot Noir that we had for dinner. What I really liked was the FCR 2009 Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley. With its zesty mineral edge, it was perfect with our grilled salmon and roast potatoes.
On the way out one of the servers said, “there’s tea and scotch inside.” So when we hit the full bar in front of the Dracula display I thought, good idea, and ordered a shot of bourbon for the road.
In what other winery on earth could I do that?
The Coppola Winery is a killer playground for grown ups. Next time, I’m coming back for a swim.