Wine Spectator recently reported that Director Francis Ford Coppola has reunited the 150 year old brand Inglenook with the iconic estate in Rutherford, CA (Read the full article here). Of all the classic brands at the beginning of the US wine revolution I have always felt that this one absolutely deserved to be brought back to its original glory. During my time at Constellation, I was fortunate enough to be involved with this brand as the Rose winemaker for a year or so. I always like to know the background of the brands that I am shepherding and Inglenook, to me, was always the saddest case. The winery was known internationally in the 1930s as one of the best in the world and present day is best known for being the 1.5L jugs on the bottom of grocery shelves. I look at Inglenook’s slow decline the same way we all would if one of the First growths of Bordeaux were to follow the same trend and 60 years from now be being sold for pennies of what it originally did. It is the poster-child case for how short term business goals can get in the way of brand survival. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming any one company or any single decision for the issue. It’s more a series of unfortunate events and small decisions over a long period of time that brought it to where it was before Coppola purchased it.
My husband and I have often talked about the older brands that have gone by the wayside and speculated who would buy them to try and bring them back to their former glory. Coppola buying Inglenook was one of the scenarios that we though would make the most sense and would likely be one of the easier rebuilding of a brand since the actual winery still exists and is operated by someone very passionate about the industry. I hope the brand will return to the popularity and level of quality that it was once known for. I’m happy to have had a small, relatively insignificant, role in its history even if it was while the brand was sold at the lower end of the market. I look forward to what the new winemaker will be doing with the famed vineyards and am excited to see the return of a classic American wine brand.
On a vintage note, the buds have now broken on the vines and tiny new leaves are slowly reaching their way towards the sky. Most of the vineyards I have seen in the North Coast (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties) are between 1-4 inches of growth. It has been another late bud break. We’re 7-10 days behind last year and last year was 2 weeks behind the average! I was hoping to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving this year but unless it warms up that is looking doubtful. We are now officially out of the drought after what looks like the 5th wettest winter of the history records for CA. Calistoga has measured as of this morning’s forecast 38+ inches of rain. Frost, so far, has kept to a minimum. I hope it stays that way and warms up soon. I’d love to get some good tomatoes out of my garden this year!