Sonoma Wine and Unique Set Design at Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola Winery at the former Chateau Souverain Property in Geyserville, CA

Francis Ford Coppola Winery at the former Chateau Souverain Property in Geyserville, CA

I am wine, snob. I have a collection of more than 1,200 bottles in my wine cellar, including a few first growths, a Mayacamas from the "Bottle Shock" year of 1975  a few Krug and a whole lot of great Pinot Noir. I love Kosta Brown, Sea Smoke, Hirsch, Siduri and Littorai and I've traveled to California at least a dozen times to taste wine.  Part of the reason for travel is to experience that sense of place that is so special to the development of a great wine brand. Wineries and vineyards exemplify the idea of place branding and location marketing. They usually focus their efforts on highlighting the place specific attributes that make a good wine - the soil, the elevation, the morning fog, temperature, and light - the terroir. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery is very different. Coppola is as a destination marketing case study of a different type - think Disneyland as opposed to Rothschild.

A Tucker Automobile from the Francis Ford Coppola Movie

During my most recent trip to California wine country, I pleasantly surprised my wine snob side with a visit to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville. I was at Chateau Souverain in November on the day the sale of the vineyard to Coppola was announced. When planning my return this year, I was told by a smaller vintner who shall remain unnamed that the place had become a bit of a circus. When I got there, I could see what (he) meant. But much to my surprise, I loved the place. It appealed to the marketer in me. The Winery is a destination, a construct of place marketing and an idea of what an Italian vineyard would look like if it were a movie set. Talk about Learning From Las Vegas!

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers visitors so much more than a tasting showroom and picturesque views. Visitors can sample a flight of Coppola wine while lounging by a glistening pool. If you prefer dining while imbibing, reserve a table on the terrace at Rustic, a restaurant that features the famous director’s favorite dishes. For the movie buffs, a visit to the Movie Gallery is not to be missed, where you can view memorabilia from Coppola’s five decades of filmmaking. Amongst the highlights were a Tucker automobile, the surfboards from Apocalypse Now and The Godfather desk. There’s even a bocce league that meets on the winery’s four courts in the summer. Coppola has created an estate that rivals Villa Miravalle of Spring Mountains.

Place Branding and Movie Marketing are Used To Sell Wine

Though I was skeptical of the showmanship, what drew me into the Coppola winery is my love for movies. Seeing props from some of my favorite films was an excellent addition to my visit. Once I had bought in, I found the other accompanying features just as pleasant. We had an enjoyable meal at Coppola’s restaurant where the service was family style and the wine – let’s not forget the wine – deserves the praise it continues to receive.

Many experienced wine connoisseurs believe the experience of opening a bottle, pouring a glass, taking in the aroma and enjoying that first sip is about more than just the wine. It’s experiencing a place in time. It’s a little taste of the land where the grapes were grown, the hands that picked them and the special vintner’s touch that finessed the grape’s full potential.

Coppola takes this wine-drinking experience to a whole new level. By attaching the movie memorabilia, the pool, the dining and the beautiful countryside to the wine, Coppola’s winery is no longer just a vineyard, but a collection of unique experiences each visitor will always recall each time they see a Coppola wine bottle.

Michael ConwayComment