From his time working in Italy\u2019s Chianti region, Scott McLeod developed a singular obsession: to make wine in the way of a classic European winery\u2014an estate vineyard based exclusively on terroir.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe land is what we sell, what we manage, what we farm, what we walk every day,\u201d McLeod declares, adding pointedly, \u201cYou are your land.\u201d So when the call came, in 1991, from Francis Ford Coppola to join him at Rubicon Estate, McLeod jumped. \u201cI wanted that job right away!\u201d he recalls. \u201cI couldn\u2019t wait. What better story is there in California than the Inglenook story?\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Inglenook story\u201d is, of course, that of a winery founded in Napa Valley in 1880 by a Finnish sea captain, Gustave Niebaum. It became one of the greatest in America, only to devolve sadly into a manufacturer of jug wines. The original vineyard was split up. The great name of Inglenook disappeared. Enter Coppola. Flush with the success of the Godfather movies, in 1975 he began a 20-year effort to reassemble the estate vineyard, an effort he finally achieved in 1995. The first Rubicon wine dates to 1978, but \u201cThe wines were less ripe, with less ripe tannins, and were hard and acidic,\u201d McLeod says.\r\n\r\nMcLeod recalls the problems confronting him from his first day in 1991. Winemaking facilities were rustic. The vineyard was suffering from phylloxera. Even while tinkering with the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the finished wine (McLeod eventually raised it to average 90%), he had to be on guard against failed vintages, such as 1998, when he recommended there be no Rubicon. \u201c[Francis]said, \u2018If you don\u2019t want to make it, then we don\u2019t make it!\u2019\u201d This, despite the fact that \u201cthe company was heavily in debt, so there was motivation for us to make as much Rubicon as possible.\u201d\r\n\r\nCoppola gives full credit to McLeod for helping restore the estate. The film director ticks off McLeod\u2019s contributions: \u201cScott\u2019s love of the land, both in Italy and here in Rutherford; his ability to bring from the great Italian tradition ideas that could be suitable for Napa Valley; his sensitive opinion as to all decisions related to our major quest for the ultimate quality of wine made here, and his work in assuring the restoration of the \u2018Niebaum\u2019 clone [of Cabernet Sauvignon]\u2014all have raised the bar. Scott,\u201d Coppola concludes, \u201cis a vital part of the heritage of the estate.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn addition to Rubicon, the flagship wine, McLeod produces Cask Cabernet (a 100% Cabernet that is an hommage to the original Inglenook wine), Blancaneux (a white Rh\u00f4ne blend) and RC Reserve Syrah (named after Coppola\u2019s son, Roman), as well as some club wines. The red wines, in particular, define Rutherford\u2019s western benchland terroir, and the vineyard remains perhaps the stellar property in Rutherford. Under McLeod\u2019s guidance as chief viticultural officer, it recently achieved full organic certification.\r\n\r\nMcLeod\u2019s devotion to the vineyard is appreciated by his contemporaries. \u201cScott understands the vineyard\u2019s contribution to wine quality, and he has the opportunity to deal with Rubicon, one of the historically great vineyards of Napa Valley,\u201d says super-grower Andy Beckstoffer.\r\n\r\nGoing forward, McLeod sees the Rubicon wines \u201cgetting better and better.\u201d He takes pride in the fact the 1,700-acre Rubicon parcel \u201cis still intact, even as the [Napa Valley] population increases and traffic gets worse.\u201d\r\nMcLeod gives proper respect to his staff. \u201cI never wanted to make wine by myself. Everything we do is with a team.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor presiding over one of Napa Valley\u2019s greatest and most glamorous wines, for accomplishing as much as he has at the young age of 47, for implementing the vision of his demandingly creative boss, Scott McLeod is Wine Enthusiast\u2019s Winemaker of the Year.