The story of Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola’s stewardship of the Inglenook Estate has as much intrigue as the plots of his movies. Forty-two years on, it looks like the trajectory of the estate is toward a warm-and-fuzzy sort of happy ending. It feels appropriate for an estate named after the Scottish expression for “cozy corner”.
Coppola never expected this kind of saga turned fairytale. After all, Coppola and his wife, Eleanor, were only looking for a country cottage. It was 1972, and the couple wanted a get-away from San Francisco. If their home-away-from-home had a few vines, maybe they would make wine like Coppola’s grandfather did in his basement. Their realtor insisted they take a rare peek inside the historic Niebaum home, up for sale for two years, even if just out of curiosity.
Luckily the Coppolas had plenty of funds from Francis’ first two The Godfather movies, because they fell smitten. Unfortunately, a housing and golf course developer outbid them. Enter, stage left, the newly formed Land Trust of Napa County. It struck down the plans for fear of the land becoming a commuter village. The developer offered the property to the Coppolas, and they at last snapped up the house and the “back property” of the original Niebaum estate in 1975.
The Coppolas instinctively knew their mission: to return the Inglenook estate into the world-class wine producer it was under the reigns of founder Gustave Niebaum then John Daniel, Sr. Driving up to the château today, you’d never guess all of the toil, passion and expense that went into revitalizing this historic property.
The obsession with quality had been a focal point at Inglenook from the start. As John Daniel, Jr. wrote to his sister in March of 1942,“A reputation for quality is very difficult to build up, and once lost sometimes takes generations in the wine business to reclaim.” The Coppolas would have to reclaim much more than just the house and the “back property” to fully restore Inglenook.
This is because Daniel, Sr. sold the front portion of the property and the château to the cooperative United Vintners in 1964. The cooperative ran quality into the ground while associating the Inglenook name with jug wine. Fortunately, the company decided to sell the vineyards and the château in 1995. Coppola acquired them. The wines continued to be produced under the Niebaum-Coppola label, a nod to the Bordelais tradition of combining prior and current owners’ names. It wasn’t until 2011 that Coppola acquired the rights to the Inglenook name and its iconic château image.
Thanks to many turns of fate and the on-going devotion of the Coppolas, the Inglenook Estate sits fully reunited (and even expanded) in Rutherford, California in the heart of Napa Valley. Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson wrote in The World Atlas of Wine, “Rutherford is the Pauillac of California.” And indeed, the wine quality has been raised to be fitting of such a distinguished comparison, thanks especially to the presence of Philippe Bascaules – winemaker of Château Margaux for 21 years – for the last six years.
Coppola chose the name “Rubicon”, as the name of his first commercialized wine. It is a reference to Caesar’s famous crossing of the Rubicon, a point of no return. This is an incredibly apt name for Coppola’s Inglenook project. So is another Caesar attribution, “Veni, vidi, vici.”
荷里活導演法蘭西斯・福特・哥普拉及他的Inglenook Estate的故事，就像他的電影一樣峰迴路轉。 四十二年來，酒莊的軌跡看起來正邁向溫暖而快樂的結局。Inglenook Estate 這名字在蘇格蘭語中是「舒適的角落」的意思。
哥普拉從來沒有想過這種傳奇變成童話。 畢竟，他和他的妻子伊莉諾原本只想尋找一間鄉村小屋。1972年這對夫婦想要離開舊金山。即使他們的家園外有些葡萄藤，他們或許只會像其祖父一樣在地下室釀造一些葡萄酒。 但他們的房地產經紀人堅持讓他們看看已放售兩年Niebaum的家。
哥普拉斯本能地清楚他們的使命：帶領Inglenook重回世界級葡萄酒生產商的行列，就像昔日創始人Gustave Niebaum及其繼承者John Daniel時的光輝歲月。今天如果你有幸參觀他們的城堡，你不會猜想到風光背後的辛勞、激情和付出。
Inglenook的焦點一直在於酒質。正如John Daniel 1942年3月寫給他妹妹的信中提到︰「聲譽的建立十分艱難，而一旦失去了，可能花幾代人的努力才能重回軌道。」哥普拉必須做更多，才能夠完全恢復Inglenook昔日的繁榮。
這是因為Daniel, Sr 於1964年將財產和酒莊賣給了United Vintners合作社。合作社並不重視品質，甚至將Inglenook的名字與平價葡萄酒連結起來。 幸運的是，1995年合作社決定出售葡萄園及酒莊。哥普拉收購了它們，其所生產的葡萄酒續以Niebaum-Coppola為標籤——將以往和現有業主名稱相結合的做法，是Bordelais的傳統。直到2011年，哥普拉才獲得了Inglenook的名稱及其標誌性酒莊形象的權利。
憑藉哥普拉持續的熱忱加上一連串的緣份，Inglenook莊園在納帕谷心臟地帶Rutherford 重新累積實力，甚至擴展起來。 Jancis Robinson 及 Hugh Johnson曾在《世界葡萄酒圖集》中寫道：「Rutherford是加州的Pauillac。」這一區葡萄酒質量名副其實，特別是Philippe Bascaules的6年來的積極參與——他 曾在Margaux莊園工作達21年之久。
哥普拉選擇了「Rubicon」這名稱作為他第一個商業葡萄酒的名稱。 這是取名於著名的凱撒渡過Rubicon河的戰役，取其「破釜沈舟」之意；與他另一款酒的名字 「Veni, vidi, vici」一樣，都充分表達了酒莊背後的故事。