Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coppola renames his Rubicon Estate "Inglenook"

I belong to the Coppola wine club, so I got this press release via email today...

Chateau Mârgaux’s Philippe Bascaules to Become Estate Manager and Winemaker of the Newly Renamed Inglenook

RUTHERFORD, CA (April 11, 2011) - Francis Ford Coppola announced today that he has acquired the iconic Inglenook trademark and that henceforth, his celebrated Rubicon Estate in Rutherford, Napa Valley will be known by its historic original name, Inglenook, which he has acquired from The Wine Group. In addition, beginning this summer renowned Bordeaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules will assume the position of Estate Manager and Winemaker at the newly renamed Inglenook.

Inglenook and its wines have played a prominent role in defining Napa Valley as one of the great wine regions of the world, with a legacy dating back nearly 150 years to the founding of the Inglenook Winery in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum. The 1941 Inglenook Cabernet, which is considered one of the greatest wines ever made, was produced from vineyards that are still part of Coppola’s estate in Rutherford.

“Welcoming a preeminent winemaker like Philippe Bascaules to the renamed Inglenook expresses my intention to honor the estate's heritage and restore its legacy,” said Coppola. “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.”

"Good stewardship of our brands is central to our company's operating philosophy and culture," said David Kent, CEO of The Wine Group. "We are pleased to see the revered Inglenook brand reunited with its historic estate under The Coppola Family’s stewardship. This is a proud moment for the California wine industry."

“I was charmed by the beauty of the estate and its unique environment,” said Bascaules. “I found the tasting of 1959 Inglenook astonishing with regard to its freshness and complexity, and when I tasted some samples of the 2009 vintage, I recognized the incredible potential of this property. I understand Francis Ford Coppola’s desire to bring the quality of the wines to their fullest potential and I’m excited to explore new methods to reach this goal.”

Rubicon will continue to be the proprietary name of Inglenook’s flagship wine, and Bascaules, who spent the past 21 years at Chateau Mârgaux, will lead a team of talented winemaking professionals dedicated to the goal of making Rubicon the finest New World estate wine produced in the Old World style. Bascaules will work closely with Stéphane Derenoncourt, the famed Pomerol-based winemaking consultant who has been the consulting winemaker at the Estate responsible for the 2008 and subsequent vintages.

For the past 11 years, Bascaules served as Estate Director at the legendary Chateau Mârgaux, one of France’s five First Growth Bordeaux wineries, overseeing the vineyards and cellars and working alongside renowned Technical Director Paul Pontallier. Bascaules, who has an agricultural engineering degree, specializing in oenology, from the graduate school of agronomy in Montpellier, France, began his career at Chateau Mârgaux as the assistant to the Estate Director.

Concurrent with Bascaules’s arrival, Heather de Savoye has been appointed President of Sales for Inglenook. Over the past four and a half years, de Savoye has successfully established an international sales presence for the Estate wines and will now assume responsibility for both international and domestic wholesale sales operations.

Since only the intellectual property of Inglenook brand is being transferred, The Wine Group intends to transition the current wines sold under the brand name to alternative labels over the coming months. No financial terms of this transaction have been disclosed.


Inglenook Vineyards was founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain who used his enormous wealth to import the best European grapevines to Napa. Over the next several decades under the guidance of the legendary John Daniel, Inglenook built a reputation as the source of some of the finest wines ever made. By 1975, however, when Francis and Eleanor Coppola first purchased part of the famed property, the Inglenook Estate had long since been broken up and its name sold off. The Coppolas spent the next twenty years reuniting the vineyards and restoring winemaking to the historic Inglenook Chateau. Today, in addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon that dominates the Estate, the Inglenook acreage is also planted with Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and six acres of white Rhone varietals that produce the estate's flagship white, Blancaneaux. Inglenook is now completely restored to original dimensions and is once again America's great wine estate.


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