It's his party, and it will rain if it wants to. Francis Ford Coppola celebrated his 67th birthday on April 7, and Unfiltered was there with 2,000 of our closest friends for the soggy birthday party. Remember that wedding scene in the first Godfather movie? The party, held at the former Chateau Souverain winery that Coppola recently purchased, was a lot like that. Only colder and wetter. And no one got married. The rain poured down in buckets, as guests wandered around nibbling on roast beef sandwiches and drinking mini cans of Sofia sparkling wine. No sign of the original Sofia, although George Lucas was there, and Unfiltered heard Sharon Stone and Robin Williams were also in attendance.
Coppola--dapper in a black beret, red scarf, light blue shirt, grey jacket and khaki pants--addressed the crowd and explained, "I'm not really 67--I'm 17." Turns out that Coppola enjoyed turning 50 so much, he started counting all over again. "Yesterday I was 50 plus 16, today I'm 50 plus 17," he added. Er, OK. The famed director stood in front of a huge birthday cake, which had an image of his Rubicon Estate on one side and an image of the as-yet-unnamed (guests were invited to submit suggestions) Geyserville property on the other side. Before he blew out the candles, Coppola spoke about his vision for two separate estates, and with a parting-of-the-Red-Sea gesture, the cake was separated into two halves. The crowd cheered and sang "Happy Birthday."
|Two thousand guests helped Coppola eat his cake.|
So about that movie idea? The one where the wine industry insider gets discovered by big-time movie director? Call us!
Jayson Woodbridge has earned kudos for his Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvignon, produced from a vineyard located northeast of St. Helena on the Silverado Trail. But he's not feeling the love these days from his neighbors or the Napa County Planning Commission, which met on March 22 to consider revoking the use permit for his production facility, One True Vine Winery. Allegedly, Woodbridge repeatedly violated, among other things, county storm-water ordinances during excavation of his caves, causing erosion and potential damage to the nearby creek. After a marathon four-hour session, the commission stopped short of revoking Woodbridge's use permit, which would undoubtedly have initiated a legal brouhaha. Instead, the commission set new conditions under which One True Vine can continue to operate; for one, it must have a third party monitor winery compliance with environmental regulations. "We hope Jayson can keep his act together in the future," says Steve Lederer, deputy planning director for Napa County. "But if he doesn't, we have a number of options at our disposal."
|Standing in the rain: Vineyard manager Al Wagner can't plant, but at least he can sell umbrellas.|
Wine is being held hostage in an ugly diplomatic dispute between Russia and the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Last week, Russian health official Gennady Onishchenko announced a ban on imports of Georgian and Moldovan wines, effective May 1, claiming that inspectors were finding unsafe levels of heavy metals and pesticides in the products. No complaints had been lodged before, and wine producers and Russian importers quickly protested. Half of the wines consumed in Russia's growing billion-dollar wine market come from the two nations, and wine is one of Georgia's largest exports. (The country even has a reputation for making the best wine east of Europe.) The nation's wine industry collapsed in the early '90s with the loss of Soviet economic support, but it has been rebuilding, despite competition from Russian counterfeiters. Now wine is the latest victim of years-long squabbles over matters such as Russian support for separatist rebels in both former republics. Presumably, it would be a good idea for Georgia and Moldova to start looking for other export markets. Maybe the Anything But Chardonnay contingent in the United States would welcome an influx of Rkatsiteli and Saperavi bottlings.
Pizza and Pinot? Satay and Viognier? According to a recent study by the Wine Market Council and Merrill Research, 40 percent of wine drinkers say they're likely to drink wine at home with their takeout. We were actually surprised the number was that high, but the council wasn't satisfied and wants to see more growth. Unfiltered to the rescue: We recommend a national marketing campaign explaining that the food pairing doesn't have to be the animal that's on the wine label.
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