Coppola plans to revive Inglenook brand

RUTHERFORD -- Filmmaker, hotelier and vintner Francis Ford Coppola today announced he acquired the Inglenook brand name and plans a significant upgrade of the Napa Valley estate where the brand was launched in 1879.

Mr. Coppola acquired the name from The Wine Group, which will be giving the wine a new name in coming months. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The name will be changed to Inglenook Estate from Rubicon Estate, but Rubicon will remain the name of the flagship wine made at the Rutherford property.

Along with the property name change, Mr. Coppola has hired Philippe Bascaules, a noted winemaker from France's Bordeaux winegrowing region, as estate manager and winemaker.

"Welcoming a preeminent winemaker like Philippe Bascaules to the renamed Inglenook expresses my intention to honor the estate's heritage and restore its legacy,” Mr. Coppola said. “There’s an interesting idea that the owner of a wine estate is part of the terroir, and it's in this spirit that I’ve spent the last year assessing Inglenook’s future needs, including recruiting Philippe Bascaules, invigorating the vineyards, planning a new state-of-the-art winemaking facility, and focusing on what it would take to achieve my goal of restoring this property into America’s greatest wine estate. This would not be possible save the gracious support of the owner/managers of The Wine Group."

Mr. Bascaules was at Chateau Mârgaux, one of France’s five First Growth Bordeaux wineries, for 21 years, first as assistant to the estate manager then manager for the past 11 years. He will be working with Stephane Derenoncourt, a winemaking consultant in charge of Rubicon Estate vintages since 2008.

These new upgrades at Inglenook follow the completion last fall of a major tourism-oriented renovation of Francis Ford Coppola Winery near the Sonoma County community of Geyserville.

The acquisition of the Inglenook name is part of a three-decade effort to return the Rutherford winery to its wine community esteem of the first half of the 20th century. Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased the property in 1975 and called it Niebaum-Coppola, after Inglenook founder Gustave Niebaum. The Inglenook name had been sold to other parties before that time.

After acquiring the former Chateau Souverain property in Geyserville, Mr. Coppola renamed the Rutherford property Rubicon Estate in 2006 and focused on an exclusive wine experience there.

Also part of the new changes is the appointment of Heather de Savoye as president of sales for Inglenook. For the past four and a half years, he has established an international sales presence for the estate wines, including the white Rhone blend brand Blancaneaux. She is now responsibile for both international and domestic wholesale sales.

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