300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441| 707-857-1400
Before I start I need to say right up front that I have a ton of respect for Francis Ford Coppola, both as a movie director and as a Napa and Sonoma winery owner. He did a good thing with Inglenook in Napa, taking a wonderful old historic winery and helping it find its way back from Jug Wine Hell to its more pure, original fine wine state. I tell people all the time to go there and I mean it. The bistro is great, the setting beautiful, it's iconic.
Of course Coppola ran into a bit of controversy when he added movie memorabilia to Inglenook. Purists were appalled that there was a Tucker car upstairs in the historic winery. He listened. And he decided to build a separate winery in Geyserville that made no apologies to his film making background and marketing instincts. He once described this as a Winery Wonderland, a place for families (yes, kids welcome) could spend a day. And with that in mind, he succeeded.
Let's start with the pool. Wait - What? Yes, there is a resort style pool on the premises where you can rent cabanas and get cocktails and pretty much stay the entire day. He said he always felt bad for the kids at Inglenook who wanted to jump in the fountain so fixed this problem by building them a pool. Reservations required.
As for dining, the main dining room is called RUSTIC and features what they claim are some of Coppola's favorites. The menu is quite varied, ranging from $12 spaghetti to $95 steak for two. I opted for the whole trout cooked encased in salt and it was surprisingly well prepared. I didn't expect the food to be this good, to be honest, especially in a setting that looks a bit like the fancy restaurant at Disneyland. Vineyard views on the outside patio, don't shy away if you're hungry.
For more casual dining find a place at one of the bars. And in case you were crazy enough to bring your kids on a winery vacation, there are smoothies and kid food out by the pool so everyone is happy.
And yes, if you want to see movie props such as the Tucker car or The Godfather scripts, this is the place. Lots and great movie memorabilia and gift shops, you can spend hours just roaming around to see the displays, sipping and eating along the way.
So right around now you might be asking "how's the wine?" and all I can say is that I never got there. Seriously, I never made it to the tasting room because it was so packed. Yeah, forget about the "free tasting" come on that you'll see pop up on the internet. That would be like trying to have dinner at Costco by eating the free samples. Instead reserve one of their other tasting experiences, Or just forget about wine tasting completely. I mean, this isn't like you're in some quaint boutique winery chatting with the winemaker. You're in a, well, Winery Wonderland, a theme park sort of winery. And while critics may say it lacks the authenticity of a more traditional winery there's no denying that Coppola succeeded in his vision to build a winery to showcase his life's work, from film making to wine making.
SHOULD YOU GO? There's no denying that this is a sight to see, an experience unlike any in Napa and Sonoma. It can get as busy as a theme park and the wine tasting experience isn't going to compete with what you will find at a smaller winery but there are plenty of people enjoying it. My recommendation is to go only if you really want to check it off your bucket list. The movie memorabilia, the glitz, the sheer spectacle of it is quite impressive. But perhaps less impressive is the actual wine tasting experience and maybe that doesn't even matter in a setting like this.