There is still room at the table on the terrace overlooking the vineyards of Alexander Valley at the newly opened Francis Ford Coppola Winery restaurant near Geyserville. The 88-acre property of rolling land includes sustainably farmed vineyards and embraces bucolic views from the terraces, tasting rooms, movie gallery, pools and bocce ball courts.
Recently on a foggy day, my husband and I drove north from San Francisco into the sun in Alexander Valley. The clouds lifted and we lingered for a tour, free tasting and a long, languorous lunch on the patio overlooking the picturesque vineyards. What could be better? We dined and sipped for hours in the timeless tradition of Italian good living.
Rustic, the new restaurant in the vineyard, offers international as well as traditional Italian dishes, with an emphasis on family-style cooking that features fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the property’s organic herb and produce garden. Authentic, cracker-crisp Neapolitan-style pizzas are also a specialty. We indulged in several of Francis’ favorites: Argentine short-ribs (grilled to perfection from a center-stage authentic, wood-burning parrilla, or Argentinean grill), a classic Caesar salad, and a show stopping Mrs. Scorsese’s Lemon Chicken with goose-fat roasted potatoes. The unpretentious, welcoming staff wants you to feel like a family member in the true Italian tradition. The masterful Chef de cuisine is Nick Petrilli formerly of Bottega and Tra Vigne. For evening dining al fresco, overhead heaters keep you comfortable even as breezes blow over the vineyards at sunset. Indoor seating is also available.
There’s no question that the Godfather director was intimately involved with every detail of the massive remodel of the former Chateau Souverain, all the way down to the placement of the two swimming pools, “Cabinitas” poolside, bocce ball courts and the family recipes on the menu.
There’s more than wine and food to entertain you for an afternoon. One of our favorite attractions at the winery is the Movie Gallery, displaying a vast collection of authentic movie memorabilia. Francis’s film making career spans five decades, which means there are some amazing items to explore, including several Academy Awards, Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather, and the original automobile from Tucker: The Man and His Dream rotating impressively on a showroom turntable. Much of the memorabilia is integrated throughout the property so that you can enjoy it all while you taste wine, peruse the retail merchandise or make your way to our restaurant.
While there is still some outdoor construction going on, the vineyard resort looks and feels fabulous. The pool area will be a strong attraction for families when it’s finished late this fall with 20 or so “Cabinitas” for guest privacy as well as a pool café.
Francis puts it best, saying the winery is meant to be “a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wind, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”