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Travel

Visit Frances Ford Coppola's Californian winery

@SamWKemp

Nestled in the undulating expanse of Sonoma County, California, you will find the true passion project of one of Hollywood’s greatest living directors.

Francis Ford Coppola’s winery sits at the very heart of California’s wine country. Wreathed in vines and dappled by honey-gold sunlight, this rustic spot is perhaps the only vineyard in the area with its own pool area, making it the perfect place not only to learn about Californian winemaking but to soak up the relaxed way of life in these parts. Whether you’re hoping to unwind, uncork, or both, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to do it than in the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Sonoma County spans over a million acres from the blue reaches of the pacific ocean to the soaring peaks of the Coast Range. The area gained a reputation for producing excellent wines in the 1970s when California producers decided to enter their wines in a blind tasting competition against French wines. Considering the entire panel was also French, it was clear the odds were stacked against them. Much to the producer’s surprise, their wines ranked highest in both categories: Chardonnays and reds. The victory came to be known as The Judgement of Paris and was reported in Time Magazine. With that kind of press, it’s no wonder the demand for wine from California surged from that point onwards.

It was around this time that Coppola acquired the Niebaum Estate in the Napa Valley, where he and his family continue to make wine to this very day. After filing for a wine license in 1978, Copolla began making wine under the Niebaum-Copolla name in 1979. That same year, he released Apocalypse Now, earning him an academy award for Best Director in 1980. However, it wouldn’t be until 2010 that the Francis Ford Coppola Winery brand would be established. The winery was opened to the public shortly after.

Featuring an expansive pool complete with fountains, bocce courts, and surrounded by mile upon mile of picturesque vineyards, the winery is the kind of playland befitting of a Hollywood giant. Visitors can while away the hours sipping wines during an experiential tasting session or wander the grounds on one of the tours. Inside the building itself, you’ll find a full-service restaurant where fresh local ingredients are given pride of place

Play a round of bocce (similar to boules) with your family on pretty courts overlooking surrounding vineyards. Take turns watching the children so you can slip away for wine tasting or join an interesting tour. You’ll also find a full service restaurant featuring traditional Italian dishes like linguine alle vongole alongside everyday classics like grilled salmon and New York strip steak. After something to eat, you might want to explore Copolla’s film gallery, which is jam-packed with movie memorabilia from films like The Godfather and The Great Gatsby, as well as a selection of shiny Academy Awards.

But it’s not just Coppola’s movies that have earned him awards. Back in 2017, he was awarded Winery of the Year by the Francisco International Wine Competition, while two of its wines – the 2013 Archimedes and the 2013 Eleanor – won at the Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition, earning top scores. So, if you’re looking to soak up the best of California’s wine country, why take a trip to The Frances Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville. After all, according to the director, “great wine is nothing more than great vineyards made without mistakes,” and this is certainly a great vineyard.

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