The Francis Ford Coppola Winery takes the whole California wine tasting experience to a whole new level. In addition to fabulous wine for adults, think swanky swimming pools to help keep the kids occupied.
Francis Coppola wanted to make sure that the whole family could enjoy the nice things in life. After watching children beg their parents to allow them to jump into the fountain at his Inglenook winery in Napa, three years ago he incorporated swimming pools into his Alexander Valley wine wonderland.
We recently visited and rented a Deauville-style “cabine” – where you can change, store your belonging and shower in privacy after swimming. It also includes swim passes, chaise lounge chairs, towels and 4 wine tastings. Tip: The cabines are very popular, so make sure you reserve one in advance.
We got there right when they opened at 11 and picked lounges near the pool cafe and wine tasting area and settled in. There were two lifeguards guards on duty. The girls quickly found a tee-pee which was full of kids books to borrow and read. My 8-year-old found a vintage copy of The Boxcar Children, which she was very pleased about.
If there is swimming space available, you don’t have to rent a cabine, just pay the $20 fee and there’s a small grassy area you can put your towel. If you tire of swimming, try 1 of 4 Bocce ball courts. Ask reception for a ball and get started! You can’t bring in outside food or drink, but ice cold water available all day at mini cabines in corners of the pool.
We had lunch at the Rosso & Bianco Pool Café and ordered Pizza Funghi e Salsiccia (house made Italian sausage, sauted mushrooms, mozzarella and grated parmigiana cheese.); a Cobb salad with hearts of romaine, tomatoes, deiced ham, turkey, beets, egg, beacon, gorgonzola, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette and a breakfast crepe with ham Swiss cheese and scrambled eggs.
You can eat at the cafe, or have the cabana boys bring it to you at your lounge chair. There’s a museum with Ford Coppola memorabilia – including the desk from the opening scene of The Godfather.
It’s a fabulous way to spend a day. We went between wine tasting and grazing throughout the day while the girls swam and read books in the Alexander Valley sunshine.
The bouncy Kate helped us to our wine tastings. The Family flight is included in the cabine package, and lets you try four wines:
- 2012 Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc (lemon, grapefruit, passion fruit, melon, honey and figs)
- 2012 Sofia Rosa (named after Copolla’s daughter (pomegranate, lavender, candied orange peep, cherry and tea leaves)
- 2012 Diamond Collection Malbec (my fav) with hints of plum, berry, cassis, cherry, anise, espresso and early mineral tones
- 2012 Votre Sante Chateau Red (leather (really), minerals, black cherry, currant and plum).
Oh, and there’s free wifi for guests. Handy for wine-sta-gramming.
We loved it. We stayed there all day swimming and tasting wine. It felt like we were at a five-star resort (without the rooms) and enjoying the good life.
If you go:
Francis Ford Coppola Winery 300 Via Archimedes Geyserville, CA 95441 +1 (707) 857-1400 www.franciscoppolawinery.com $125 to rent a cabine for the day, includes 4 wine tastings, 4 lounge chairs and towels. Kids smoothie tastings on the weekends.
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch 738 Main St St Helena +1 (707) 963-9181 www.longmeadowranch.com Great food and responsible farming.
Nicholson Ranch Winery 4200 Napa Rd Sonoma, CA 95476 +1(707) 938-8822 www.nicholsonranch.com Winemaker owned and run! Sip one of their signature Pinots or Chardonnays while sitting in a comfortable deck chair looking over a lake and golden hills. Worth the trip.
Walker’s Apples 10955 Upp Rd Graton, CA 95444 +1 (707) 823-4310 This apple farm has 27 varities of apples, and you can “try before you buy”. In August, it is worth the trip to get a box of Gravenstein apples, quite possible the best in the world and a local secret.