Large heated pool part of appeal to families; pushing label designThe renovated winery in picturesSee photos highlighting the changes to the winery.
GEYSERVILLE -- Work crews last week were putting the finishing touches on Francis Ford Coppola’s "wine wonderland" makeover of the former Chateau Souverain winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.
Just after Francis and Eleanor Coppola acquired the property in March 2006, he said he wanted to create a family-friendly wine resort in Sonoma County to complement the exclusive orientation of the Rubicon property he has reposition in Rutherford in Napa Valley.
That vision partly came to fruition with the reopening in July of the tasting room in the Geyserville chateau along with a new restaurant, called Rustic; a cocktail bar; mini museum of Coppola movie memorabilia, including the car from "Tucker;" and the iconic desk from "The Godfather."
The kid-friendly liquid refreshment came Oct. 22 with the opening of 3,500 square feet of heated pools. A number of wineries have picnic grounds, but a pool is a rather unique amenity.
The poolside patio includes an outdoor cafe, theatrical stage and amphitheater, cabines for private showering and changing, bocce courts and children's library. The cabines rent for $25 a day, giving access to the pool.
"On a Saturday recently, the pool was full of kids because even though the temperature was in the 70s, the pool is heated," said James Luchini, events and performing arts manager. It is set to remain open through November.
Work behind the scenes at the chateau, now called Francis Ford Coppola Winery, has been evolving in the past four years.
The production side of the winery also has been transformed since the Coppolas acquired the property. Ninety percent of the Souverain employees were kept on after the Souverain brand relocated to Treasury Wine Estates' Asti winery, but they had to learn Mr. Coppola's approach to wine production.
The number of wines made at the Geyserville winery has expanded from 12 to nearly four dozen. And about one-third of winery capacity is devoted to about 20 custom winemaking clients of various scales.
Mr. Coppola's innovative approach to cinema has been applied to winery operations and brand packaging, according to Mr. Luchini.
“We’re a very technology-oriented company,”he said.
The facility had one bottling line in 2006 to produce a half-million cases of the Souverain brand annually. The line handles traditional rectangular-shaped labels well, but Mr. Coppola continually wants to push the limits of packaging design, according to Mr. Luchini.
“I remember a time Francis asked someone to produce something, and one guy told him, ‘The machine can’t do that,’” Mr. Luchini said. “To which Francis said, ‘The machine really told you that? It talked to you?’”
Working with local designers and label producers such as Paragon Label of Petaluma, the Coppola team came up with a spiral-applied label for the Director’s Cut line. The label has won packaging industry awards.
Also, the Diamond Collection Pavillion and Claret labels are packaged in gold-colored netting started with the Gran Reserva wines from Spain’s Rioja region around the turn of the 20th century.