More than once on this blog, I’ve written about children having a place at wineries. They should have a place, in my humble opinion. Most winery owners have children, and their children – like mine did when living at home – were able to enjoy wine with their meals.

Why not? Wine is a liquid food and has been part of mankind for over 6,000 years. It’s only been since the Puritans came to the “new world” that they threw out “old world” manners and sensibilities. Still, today, a few remaining DNA purists have been trying to have us all become uptight, in their own image and likeness. Prohibition of the 1930s proved what a terrible country this would become, if a prohibition on wine (a.k.a. alcohol) was allowed to continue.

So… enough of that rant. That’s not what this story is about. I only set the stage for why I believe that children should be taught about our culture of wine being an everyday occurrence. When parents come to wine country on a family vacation, there are very limited things for those kids to do. Over the weekend, however, I just experienced the Riviera in Sonoma County, and was reminded again how well Francis Ford Coppola has presented a winery that’s all inclusive for a family. I’m not surprised that it’s taken someone with Italian roots to figure this out. And… someone who’s connected to Hollywood’s love of drama, opulence, and setting the stage for fun and excitement… “G” rated.

It’s only April in wine country. The weather here is unseasonably chilly. It’s been either raining or slightly overcast for the last six or so weeks, and yet the swimming pool reservations at Coppola’s winery were sold out on Saturday, April 7. Sold out… I couldn’t believe it. What’s it like in July and August, one has to wonder? Francis is my hero, when it comes to doing it right for family’s sake.

There are a lot of three generation families, I’ve noticed, when visiting. Grandparents are “involved” in the day, watching the children, while parents are allowed to taste wine in the tasting room, or have something to eat in the winery’s fine dining restaurant.
I’m sure Nana and Grampy can also slip away, when the parents return to their children. I love the tipi reading room and the amphitheater in which children can explore when a concert isn’t in session. (I would have explored it as a child, because I did have access to a Grange stage, and loved it.)

I learned from Aaron (our concierge that helped us to get our case of wine to our car…yeah, service is that good) that he had been at the winery that day since 5:30 a.m. The winery had an Easter egg hunt, and he arrived really early to help hide the eggs. He told Jose and me that there were 400 children at 10:00 a.m. that hit the vineyards to find eggs. I said, “I can only imagine a viticulturist having nightmares with that many kids in the vineyards.” He said, “No, not really. We had some rows that were mowed, and the vines were all pruned. We had different sections for different ages, so all of the kids would have fun and have a chance to find eggs. It was well organized.”

There were 2,200 people who were at the winery by 10:00 a.m. If there were only 400 children, that means there were 4.5 adults per child. The parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends accompanied the egg gatherers. What astute marketing by Francis Coppola’s team. And, it has to do with honoring family traditions.

And the pool? It’s a tropical 86 degrees, as of two weeks before that Easter weekend..

Okay, this is what I’m talking about. It’s not just a winery with a little table in the corner, where kids can hang while their parents taste wine. This is a winery catering to the child inside of all of us, because most families include children, and they are the future (customers).

My hat is off to the Riviera experience in Sonoma County.

And then, there are the wines…

Oh yeah, this is a winery after all. Keep in mind that this larger than life man does everything in a big way. So why would he skimp on the wines that bear his name? Coppola’s wines are done as well as any movie he’s ever produced. He over delivers. Jose and I went there with a purpose… to purchase a case of his Sophia Rosé. We weren’t going to wine taste; however, I know that the winery makes a Petite Sirah, and I couldn’t resist when my eyes fell on “Petite Sirah” on their tasting menu.

If you know my background of being the founding executive director of PS I Love You (advocacy group for Petite Sirah), then you know that the last 10 years have delivered to me more Petite Sirah than the average person will ever taste in a life time. How, then, could I pass up the chance?

My tasting person was Jill Jones. I gave her some info on PS I Love You, and she reciprocated with the Coppola wine stories. It was a great exchange, and once we bought the case of Sophia Rosé she also over delivered with the packaging. Every experience I’ve had at the winery, including being at Coppola’s Napa property called Rubicon has been an over delivering experience.

Winemaker Corey Beck has done an outstanding job with his Petites. Yup… Two of them.

One for the general public

2008 Coppola Diamond Collection Petite Sirah was a big, bold, kinda like Francis Ford Coppola wine. I can see him with a cigar (notes) in a big, overstuffed arm chair (a bit of leather) on the wine, and lusciously huge California blueberries in flavor. The finish was a long finish, but more of a feminine Petite. I see juicy Petites being a more feminine, emotional wine. This one is from Paso Robles, so that perfectly explained the blueberry jam to me.

One only for their “Family” wine club.

2009 Coppola Petite Sirah, Bevill-Wolcott Vineyard (Sonoma County) was the only wine on their list with a “Family Only” designate. I’ve said over-and-over again… Petite Sirah is a winemaker’s wine, and they love producing something so special it’s only sold at the winery, all less then 400 cases. To have it be a “Family Only” wine takes it one step farther. This Petite was more restrained, with spicy tobacco and tiny Maine blueberries, with a lingering finish that went on and on, with this Petite being a more masculine, analytical wine.




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