Inglenook Estate (formerly Rubicon Estate, formerly Niebaum-Coppola) changed its name in 2011 after the owner, Francis Ford Coppola was able to finally purchase this name. The Inglenook name was bought by a number of corporate wine making machines since its inception and was most recently in use by Constellation Brands. Today the winery bills themselves as "America's Grand Wine Estate". This storied winery has been in business for over 130 years and is easily one of the most picturesque wineries in all of Napa. This was among the first Bordeaux styled wineries in the USA and they won many prestigous wine tasting awards when they were an active winery including gold medals at the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. The winery was shut down during Prohibition, but reopened after the repeal and again became very well known in the 1940's and 1950's.
To enter the winery, drive down a long paved driveway off on the west side of Highway 29. This driveway is located just north of the Rutherford Cross Road and almost across from the great BV Winery. The end of the driveway ends in a semi-circle where you will be greeted with a smile and by the obligatory words, "Welcome to Inglenook Estate". Your "chauffeur" will complimentary valet park your car. From here you walk along a lengthy red carpet (we have been here several times and the carpet is never quite as clean as the red carpet they roll out for you at Universal Studios!) to the entrance of this historic winery. There is a $25 estate entrance fee which you can ask to be waived for your "designated driver" if you have one. This fee includes a 30 minute historical tour. Cute "passports" are given to you upon entering which will include your very own stamp which you receive at the wine tasting counter. It also contains general and historic information about the winery.
This "passport" is good for 2 days, for a visit and tour only. The fee includes 5 tastings from their main room, a guided tour and a self tour of the movie and sailing rooms. The main building is very fancy both inside and outside. There is a beautiful reflecting pool in front, and a large stately oak tree on one side adds a dimension of history to the winery. The movie director Francis Ford Coppola, of Godfather and Apocalypse Now fame, has been the owner of this winery since 1975. Coppola has long enjoyed wine (his grandfather used to make home wine in the basement of his New York apartment) and this is not the only winery he owns; he also operates Rosso Bianco in Geyserville in neighboring Sonoma County.
Tastings are mostly Cabernets Sauvignon. All estate wines come from their vineyards on site which are all organically farmed. Rubicon has many acres some of which extend all the way up into the Mayacamas Hills to the west of the actual winery. We enjoyed the 2004 Rubicon which is a very full bodied, smooth rich wine with lots of fruit on the palate. This is a big fruit driven wine but without the huge tannins. You are free to take the last taste with you as you walk throughout the building. Be sure to visit the small sailing room downstairs which includes mementos and memorabilia from the original owner, Gustave Niebaum. As you will quickly learn from visiting the winery, he was a sailor. Upstairs you find the Movie Museum with many of Francis Ford Coppola's awards, movie props and other interesting movie memorabilia. Exhibits upstairs are often displayed on a rotating basis.
A grand staircase leads up to this museum and provides a good photo op at its base. Think Jack & Rose at the base of the staircase in the movie Titanic as you wave to your friend's camera. One of their Reserve wines has a wooden label. We challenge you to find another wine on the market with such a label! If its a warm day, there are tables outside for your relaxing enjoyment - also towards the south end of the winery there is another winebar called Mammarella (named after Francis's mother). This winebar provides additional tastings in a relaxed Parisian cafe style atmosphere (small food items are also served).