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Bizzy's Profile

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Napa Valley, with dog

I have to disagree. Rubicon Estate is well worth it. Francis Ford Coppola completely restructed what happens at his winery. He is now producing a very high end level of Estate wines - organically grown, too, for those that hold such standards in high regards. But the point is, he got rid of the Hollywood hustle and created an extremely high end line of all new wines. It's brilliant. The Chateau where the winery is housed is breathtaking and its history, ironically, is the stuff great stories and films are made of. The $25 guest fee is equal to - or in some cases less than - what you'll spend in fragmented fees at most other wineries. It's far less than what you'll pay at other high end wineries. If you keep up with the trade papers, Rubicon Estate has garnered some of the most impressive wine reviews and scores for it's flagship Rubicon cabernet AND it's Estate Zinfandel. There is a new sense of serious wine at this winery now. Also - the guest fee is good for three days. A whole weekend of coming and going! They have a really cool Wine Bar / Coffee Bar that is fun to come back on day 2 and 3 as your morning coffee stop or afternoon glass of wine. The wine bar is seperate from the tasting room and it looks like it was trasnplanted from the best spot in all of Europe. It's simply stunning. I strongly disagree...VERY well worth it.

Jul 05, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area

Which of these wineries would you go to?

Also - Rubicon Estate produces an entirele new line of wines then what was produced under Niebaum-Coppola. Coppola still owns but he made significant improvements. The old diamond series wines are good table wines, but Rubicon produces an entirely different reserve line now, and the produce organicly grown estate wines. The Estate Zinfandel is gorgeous and it's getting incredible reviews. (Ask for the Pennino Zinfandel because the produce two Zins...a reserve Zin, and the estate Zin: Pennino....fantastic) The Estate Merlot & Cab Franc are equally impressive. Rubicon Estate does what Niebaum Coppola couldn't....they now take wine seriously....and it's showing.

Jul 05, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area

Which of these wineries would you go to?

Coppola still owns Rubicon Estate...he just made changes....wine focused changes. New wine too...better. The old diamond wines are good table wines. But Rubicon Estate produces some really impressive Estate selections. Their Estate Merlot and Estate Cab Franc are really, very good. They don't pour those int he Tasting Room but you can get buy them by the glass at the on-site Wine Bar. Really cool little place.

Jul 05, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area

Which of these wineries would you go to?

A word about Rubicon: yes it is $25 but if you break down various fees and many wineries, it's about the same if not slightly less. Also - the $25 allows you taste 5 wines including Rubicon - a wine that is $115 per bottle. You also get a tour and can roam to & from the Chateau all weekend...it's a 3 day pass. They have a wine bar called Mammarella's - seperate from the tasting room - that serves wine by the bottle and by the glass - plus Mammarella's does killer coffee drinks - well worth a first, second, and third trip back. There is a new museum...funky, interesting little gadgets on display that relate to film history. It's actually quite enjoyable. Plus that Tucker automobile is still there! What a car! Worth it!

Jul 05, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area

Rubicon Estate

Nope. It's for anyone! I'm telling you - for the atmospher alone, it's the best kept secret in Napa. The courtyard just outside is stunning. It was actually modeled exactly from a park in France...Paris, I believe...the name of the Paris park escapes, but once you see, it's like stepping into Europe. Sitting there with a glass of wine or coffee drink - iced today - you can't beat a better way to while away an afternoon. They make a sparkling wine and rose - perfect for the summer.

Jul 05, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area

Rubicon Estate

I am a resident in Napa Valley, having lived here for almost 8 years, I consider it my home. Like most residents, I don't go out wine tasting on the weekends, but I do have my tried and true favorites. Niebaum-Coppola holds a special place in my heart for a long list of reasons. Because of some of the comments I've read on this website about the new experiance at this winery, a place beloved by locals and visitors, I felt compelled as a local to share what it's really like there.

For starters, yes, Rubicon Estate used to be known as Niebaum-Coppola. Most locals can't answer this question correctlly, the change is less then 2 busy seasons old and most locals simply don't go out wine tasting. The answer, is that Francis Ford Coppola very wisely opted to remove references to his name and the Hollywood images his name inescapably conjures up. Francis Ford Coppola is seriuos about wine. With "Rubicon Estate", organically grown estate wines that are beginning to garner serious attention from serious wine collectors are now at the forefront, with his Hollywood past - a totally seperate chapter in his life. For the serious wine drinker, carefully produced estate wines is of far more interest than Hollywood movies. In the old days of Niebaum-Coppola, movies mattered, not the wine. Throngs of people flooded the winery making the entire experiance crazed, crowded, and chaotic. In the new format, it's all about the wine - and the tragic / glorious history of the stunningly beautiful120-year old chateau where the winery is housed. With less crowds perusing the grounds, visitors are more able to take in that history and explore an historic structure in comfort. (Insider tip: if you can visit Rubicon Estate during the Fall, make it happen. The front exteriour of the chateau and the surrounding courtyard is positively ablaze with ivy and grape leaves hanging from the pergula in the courtyard in every shade of red, orange, purple, yellow, and gold. Breathtaking!)

A word about the $25 guest fee: Rubicon Estate is part of the Napa Neighbor program. If you have a Napa county I.D., you are a complimentary guest. They also offer extended compliments to designated drivers and minors. Designated drivers will obviosly not be tasting wine at the bar, but they can still enjoy the rest of the offerings, and there is a lot to do and see inside. The guest fee buys you a "guest pass" which is good for three full days. A whole weekend of coming & going! They provide a tour which covers the history of the Chateau, very worth taking if you're a history buff or some one who appreciates a "happy ending". The history is full of trails and triumphs.

There are private tours that you can book ahead of time. They get more technichal about winemaking. Friends have taken some of the private tours and been escorted through the vineyards and in to the wine caves. Ask the Concierge about what is being offered. They have also just started doing a wine & food pairing on the weekends which I have not done but I have attended other wine & food events where the public is invited to the winery and can assure you that the in house Chef is serious about food.

In the Tasting Room you'll find the bar where you'll be escorted by a wine guide through tasting the reserve line of mostly reds, but they save the best for last and tag a tasting of the celebrated Rubicon Cabernet on to the tasting. This is a wine that sells for $115 per bottle. Taste it as part of what you've already paid for!

For me, a local, I don't really need to taste at the bar. But Rubicon Estate also houses the best kept secret in all of Napa Valley - a wine bar they call "Mammarella's" where you can buy any of their wines, including the estate selections, by the glass and just relax away from the crowds at the local restaurants, bars and other wineries. It's quite enjoyable! They also do a coffee service with fresh espresso drinks - latte, mocha, french pressed,etc. Some people bring sandwiches and eat outside in the Mammarella's courtyard. We do!

It's really a very nice time and well worth checking out. The Tasting Room is only part of the experiance. I highly reccommend Mammarella's for a complete selection of their wines by the glass and the atmosphere. The best kept secret in Napa!

Jul 04, 2007
Bizzy in San Francisco Bay Area