Napa's Inglenook Estate Reclaims Its Name

Francis Ford Coppola has acquired the iconic Inglenook
trademark from The Wine Group and has announced that his celebrated Rubicon
Estate in the Napa Valley will henceforth be known by its historic original

Beginning this summer, renowned Bordeaux winemaker Philippe
Bascaules will assume the position of Estate Manager and Winemaker at the newly
renamed Inglenook.

Inglenook and its wines have played a prominent role in
defining Napa Valley as one of the great wine regions of the world, with a
legacy dating back nearly 150 years to the founding of the Inglenook Winery in
1879 by Gustave Niebaum. The 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, which is
considered one of the greatest wines ever made, was produced from vineyards
that are still part of Coppola’s estate in Rutherford.

“Welcoming a preeminent winemaker like Philippe Bascaules to
the renamed Inglenook expresses my intention to honor the estate’s heritage and
restore its legacy,” said Coppola. “There’s an interesting idea that the owner
of a wine estate is part of the terroir, and it’s in this spirit that I’ve
spent the last year assessing Inglenook’s future needs, including recruiting
Philippe Bascaules, invigorating the vineyards, planning a new state-of-the-art
winemaking facility, and focusing on what it would take to achieve my goal of
restoring this property into America’s greatest wine estate.

David Kent, CEO of The Wine Group, noted, “Good stewardship
of our brands is central to our companys operating philosophy and culture. We
are pleased to see the revered Inglenook brand reunited with its historic
estate under the Coppola family’s stewardship. This is a proud moment for the
California wine industry.”

Rubicon will continue to be the proprietary name of
Inglenook’s flagship wine, and Bascaules, who spent the past 21 years at
Chateau Margaux, will lead a team of winemaking professionals dedicated to the
goal of making Rubicon the finest New World estate wine produced in the Old
World style.

Bascaules will work closely with Stephane Derenoncourt, the
famed Pomerol-based consultant who has been the consulting winemaker at the
estate, responsible for the 2008 and subsequent vintages.

Since only the intellectual property of the Inglenook brand
is being transferred, The Wine Group intends to transition the current wines
sold under the brand name to alternative labels over the coming months. No
financial terms of the transaction were disclosed.

Tomorrow: A look at the history of Rubicon and Inglenook.

Posted in The Wine Business
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