Cover image for A sense of place : an intimate portrait of the Niebaum-Coppola Winery and the Napa Valley
A sense of place : an intimate portrait of the Niebaum-Coppola Winery and the Napa Valley
Kolpan, Steven.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxii, 234 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), map ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library TP557 .K65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In A Sense of Place , renowned wine expert and writer Steven Kolpan tells the story of how Francis Ford Coppola brought California's most distinguished and historic vineyard back to life.

Gustave Niebaum's Inglenook Estate, started in 1879, was one of the Napa Valley's first established vineyards and the birthplace of its premium wine industry. Generations after Niebaum's death, the vineyard was sold to Heublein, the wine and spirits monolith, who broke up the land and changed the Inglenook brand from a premium, connoisseur wine to a mass-market jug wine.

In 1975, Francis Coppola bought the Niebaum residence and the surrounding estate. Along with the original estate's reputation, he also brought back some of its original workers, including Rafael Rodriquez, who, in h is late seventies, now serves as the vineyard manager and historian.

Coppola overcame naysayers, red tape, and financial turmoil to reestablish the winery as a defender of quality, producing wine under four different labels, including the revered wine Rubicon.

In 1995, Coppola purchased the Inglenook Chateau and its adjacent vineyards, fulfilling his dream of reuniting the original Napa Valley estate.

Kolpan's luscious, flavorful narrative is worth enjoying now and keeping for later.

Author Notes

Steven Kolpan, professor of wine studies and gastronomy at The Culinary Institute of America, is the co-author of Exploring Wine: The Culinary Institute of America's Complete Guide to Wines of the World (which was nominated for Best Wine and Spirits book of 1997 by the James Beard Foundation).

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kolpan, wine professor at the Culinary Institute of America, tells of the rise, fall and rebirth of the Niebaum-Coppola Winery. In 1879, Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish immigrant, purchased 1000 acres of property in Northern California's Napa Valley, which he christened Inglenook (Scottish for "cozy corner"). Having already made his fortune in the Alaskan fur trade, Niebaum tried his hand at wine making, a venture that proved very profitable. The years following Niebaum's death in 1908, however, were turbulent for Inglenook. Fourteen years of Prohibition nearly forced the winery to close. Even after the law was repealed, Americans were slow in developing a taste for the grape. Consequently, the winery suffered extreme financial difficulties and was sold to corporate interests that had no intention of producing fine wine. In 1975, film director Francis Ford Coppola resuscitated the estate, which had fallen victim to years of mismanagement and neglect. While parts of the book read like publicity material for the Coppola vineyards ("To think of Rubicon [the flagship wine] as a commodity is to ignore its viticulture and viniculture"), Kolpan nicely incorporates vivid figures (including Rafael Rodriguez, a Mexican who started at Inglenook as a migrant worker in the 1940s and now serves as the vineyard manager and historian) and explanations of such viticultural concepts as terroirÄthe French term for the "elusive, indefinable mix of soil" and climate that gives wines their unique character. Illustrations. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Kolpan's book concerns the history of the Inglenook/Niebaum-Coppola estate in California's Napa Valley. Kolpan recounts the history of Gustav Niebaum's desire to produce fine wine, the subsequent decline under nonresident, corporate management, and the return to excellence with the creation of Niebaum-Coppola. This book is fun: it conveys a sense of gossip and local intrigue by focusing on persons who make the story--Coppola, Niebaum, Earle Martin, Scott McLeod, John Daniel, Rafael Rodriquez, et al. Kolpan's message seems clear: dedication to the production of fine wine production is a near-religious calling. Sacrifice is justified. However, one cannot escape the reality that both Niebaum and Coppola brought huge fortunes to complement that calling. One may be more pleased about tickets purchased for Coppola movies since the money is invested in fine wine. This book is about "Place" and Kolpan (Culinary Institute of America) evokes the land, people, and spirit of Niebaum-Coppola. Though occasionally repetitive--one does not need to be repeatedly told that Edizione Pennimo was named for Coppola's maternal grandfather's music publishing company--this pleasant read is recommended as light entertainment while sipping a glass of fine wine. General readers. G. S. Howell; Michigan State University

Table of Contents

Francis Ford Coppola
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Foreword: A Sense of Heritagep. xiii
Introductionp. xvii
Chapter 1 Rutherford Dustp. 3
Chapter 2 The Captain of the Shipp. 17
Chapter 3 The Inheritorp. 49
Chapter 4 One with the Landp. 67
Chapter 5 No Winnersp. 97
Chapter 6 The Echo of the Vinep. 115
Chapter 7 Harvest Timep. 141
Chapter 8 Stewardshipp. 157
Chapter 9 Consulting with the Captainp. 173
Chapter 10 Tasting Notes: The Rubicon Vintages from 1978-1995p. 197
Bibliographyp. 217
Indexp. 223

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