The Evolution of Inglenook Wines

The history of the property in Napa Valley, California, now owned by Francis Ford Coppola, dates back to 1871 when William C. Watson bought a seventy-eight acre farm west of Rutherford. He named the farm Inglenook, a Scottish expression meaning “cozy corner”, and planted the property’s first grapes.

In 1879, Gustave Niebaum bought the farm and the adjoining four-hundred-forty-acre farm for $48,000.

In 1881, Niebaum had a chateau built and began construction of a winery. One year later Inglenook crushed its first vintage of 80,000 gallons of wine.

By 1891, Inglenook wines were served at the White House to president Grover Cleveland. During prohibition in 1919, winemaking operations ceased and didn’t resume until 1933 when prohibition was repealed.

In 1939, Inglenook was bought by John Daniel Jr., and under his leadership it continued to make fine wine for decades. The 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon received a perfect 100 score from the Wine Spectator.

Daniel’s motto was “Pride, Not Profit”. In fact, he was subsidizing operations from his personal fortune. By 1964 the winery was in financial straits and he sold the name and 166 acres to Allied Grape growers. A few years later Heublin Corporation purchased Allied Grape Growers and the Inglenook name with it. From that point, quality was set aside in favor of profit and Inglenook became known as a cheap jug wine.

In 1975, Francis and Eleanor Coppola bought the Inglenook estate with profits from the Godfather movies. Under Francis’ leadership, Niebaum-Coppola has flourished and is once again producing world class wines at this beautiful historic site.

I was lucky enough to visit the Niebaum Estate and taste a new line of premium wines that are sold under the Inglenook name. They were truly excellent, with outstanding balance and complexity. They convey a unique sense of place, and have brought the Inglenook name full circle.

“Seven days without wine makes one weak.”

– Anonymous

This months’ White Wine of the Month is the 2015, Mont Gravet, Colombard from Gascogne, France. It is crisp and dry, with citrus notes and great minerality.

Our Red Wine of the Month is Vina Borgia, 2015, Garnacha, from Campo de Borja, Spain. This wine is lively and fresh, with black raspberry, lavender, and a hint of white pepper.

Wine Club members come in and get your bottles early before they’re gone!

Cheers!

Steve Berger

Sommelier, Maynards Market and Kitchen