Francis Ford Coppola announced yesterday that he acquired the rights to the Inglenook name from previous owner, The Wine Group, for an undisclosed amount—and that his Rubicon Estate Winery in Rutherford will now be renamed Inglenook.
Coppola also announced that Philippe Bascaules, estate director at Château Margaux for 21 years, was appointed Inglenook’s new winemaker.
The purchase is indeed significant for Napa Valley’s history and legacy; Inglenook is arguably one of the oldest and most glorious names in Napa. The winery was founded in 1879 and produced one of California’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, Inglenook Cask, for the better part of a century. The 1941 vintage was particularly celebrated, and even die-hard Bordeaux fans raved about its longevity.
In the 1960s, however, it suffered when it was sold to a series of larger firms that paid little attention to quality, including Heublein, which eventually sold it to Canandaigua Wine Company, Constellation Brands. When Constellation decided to upgrade quality in 2008, it sold Inglenook to The Wine Group.
A spokesperson for Coppola said that the Rubicon brand, which has included the flagship Rubicon red Bordeaux blend, Syrah, Zinfandel, “Cask” Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and white Rhône-style Blancaneaux, will now be called Inglenook. The only label that will retain the “Rubicon” name will be the flagship blend.
"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."