Inglenook 1991 St. Helena Hwy. (Hwy. 29), (800) RUBICON, (707) 968-1100. Tasting & tours daily 10-5, by appt.; $45-$135; (707) 968-1161.
Founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain who made his fortune in the Alaskan shipping trade, this is the fourth-oldest winery in the Napa Valley. This is also the largest contiguous estate vineyard on the famed Rutherford Bench, Napa Valley’s finest area for producing spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon. The property is now owned by legendary film director Francis Ford Coppola, who has lived in a home on part of the estate since the 1970s, and who, when the winery was up for sale, made an offer they couldn’t refuse. And not too long ago, Mr. Coppola was finally able to purchase rights to the original Inglenook name and changed the property over from its previous Rubicon Estate name. Now, visitors must reserve a tour, and after checking in at the Visitor Center will drive through a stately iron gate, then down a grand, long lane lined with cone-shaped London plane trees, arriving at the impressive vintage estate.
|closed gate at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
|entry lane at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
|chateau at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
Tours here are made to your order. Ours began with tasting a crisp 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, which we carried with us to view Napa's first winery tasting room.
|2016 Sauvignon Blanc at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
|Napa's first winery tasting room at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
We borrowed paper parasols to protect us from the sun and continued outside with our wine. Our guide was charming and knowledgeable and relayed to us many interesting stories. We viewed the vineyards
|tasters Carole Terwilliger Meyers and Gene Meyers at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
and a magnificent redwood tree, then visited the South Barrel Room where special events are held,
|South Barrel Room at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
and re-entered the chateau on the second floor, where we viewed an authentic Tucker automobile like the one that was used in Coppola’s movie, ”Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (the original Tucker--like Coppola’s five Oscars--reside at his namesake Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville).
|Tucker automobile at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
Here, we also viewed his collection of magic lanterns and a video of FFC telling the story of how he acquired them.
On the first floor, after quickly perusing the tiny Centennial Museum that documents the winery's history, we settled into our private tasting room amid ancient dust-covered Inglenook bottles that looked like they hadn’t been touched in centuries. While we nibbled from a platter of olives, nuts, and cheese, we sipped a 2014 Edizione Pennino Zinfandel ($48), a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($75), and a 2013 Rubicon ($210), and, but of course, all were delicious. (We heard that Bill Murray had visited a few days before and that Francis Ford himself dropped in to join that tasting.)
|tasting at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
|Sebastian Pacheco leads tasting at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
|wine pour at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
A gift shop extraordinaire purveys many things you didn’t know you needed,
|gift shop display at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
and The Bistro cafe serves coffees, wines by the glass or bottle, and light snacks, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. I hear that if you order some granita Francis-style, you’ll get a splash of red wine on top. Cigars are also available for purchase. And just as in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, which this part of the estate is designed to resemble, guests can borrow wooden sailboats to float in the courtyard fountain.
|drink menu at The Bistro cafe at Inglenook winery in Rutherford, California|
More things to do in Rutherford.
More ideas for exploring Northern California.
images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers