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  • Writer's pictureJTF

Excellence From The Spoils of Trade and Ingenuity: Inglenook Winery

Captain Gustave Niebaum is the perfect example of how one can develop excellence with hard work and some American ingenuity. Captain Niebaum came from Finland in 1864, first to Alaska, and then in 1868 to San Francisco, making his fortune in trade and sailing. He bought the original land for Inglenook in 1879 and with the help of renowned architect Hamden W. McIntyre, built one of the most iconic properties in the valley.

The castle was completed in 1887, with first harvests produced and expanded within the property in the interim of construction. Captain Niebaum was a man who understood the mechanics of winemaking and with grand aspirations to create wines that would rival those of European pedigree. His property, complete with a gravity flow production system, would indeed produce some of the most exceptional wines the valley has ever known.

Today's Inglenook is the creation of another American excellence and ingenuity story. The winery's current owner Francis Ford Coppola bought the castle and land behind its hill without knowing the history or value as a vacation residence. Today, Coppola's vision for the property is one of legacy and restoration, bringing back to life the property's original footprint. Also, new caves have begun construction to house the grapes that will likely yield some of the valley's most excellent wines once again.

The wines at Inglenook are soft and balanced, they offer incredible value and can be seen as a 'steal' as the winery continues to rebuild its reputation and branding. A trip to the winery is an opportunity to travel back in time, and a chance to taste first hand the original vision of what Captain Niebaum had in mind when he originated the property. Coppola's cinematic eye is present throughout the new additions and paraphernalia that he decided to preserve from the original. Part museum, part residence, and tasting room, and part movie set, a trip to Inglenook is one to remember.


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