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Francis Ford Coppola
Courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola

California Questionnaire: Francis Ford Coppola

California Questionnaire: Francis Ford Coppola
The esteemed filmmaker loves great wine, local cuisine, and road tripping from the Napa Valley to Sonoma County

Though best known as the Academy Award-winning director of The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s winemaking roots dig deep. He produced his first harvest at the Inglenook Estate in Rutherford in 1978 and now offers a wide variety of wines, including a highly acclaimed red blend, Rubicon, designed for discerning oenophiles. He also owns the 88-acre Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, a particularly scenic corner of the Alexander Valley region of Sonoma County.

Beyond wine, Coppola has his hand in resorts, restaurants, a literary journal, an independent film studio, and much more. We asked the iconic filmmaker to share some of his Golden State favorites; his answers are below.

Where do you live? Rutherford, in the Napa Valley

Why there? That is the original location of the Inglenook Winery established in the 19th century and where we make our home.

Who or what is your greatest California love? I guess I must say the Inglenook Winery in Rutherford because it is probably the most beautiful large wine estate in the world.

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? It would be a misperception to assume Californians are all the same when in fact Californians represent such a diverse cross-section of people from all over the world, attracted by the extraordinary beauty and resources of California. They are truly cosmopolitan and diverse.

What is the stereotype that most holds true? You have to get everywhere by car.

What is your favorite Golden State splurge? To enjoy the incredible home-grown produce and agricultural products from this region.

Time for a road trip—where are you going? I love the drive from the Napa Valley wine country to the Sonoma wine country through the Alexander Valley. This is probably the most beautiful 45-minute trip existing anywhere and I find that I’m never bored by the journey nor hesitant to undertake it. I go from Inglenook and Rutherford directly through St. Helena then Calistoga and then continue through the Alexander Valley until I reach Highway 101, which I join. I then get off at the Independence Lane exit and I am there.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? This state is so diverse in its offerings it would be impossible to decree an official cuisine and be fair to the varying cultures that have influenced cuisine here. It is as easy to find an amazing meal inspired by local produce in the form of a vibrant and flavorful salad as it is to find high-quality Mexican-influenced cuisine or Japanese sushi.

How do you define California style? California is such a large state with the northern section and southern section varying quite differently from one another that it would be very difficult to typify beyond people who are friendly, love where they live, and feel grateful for being able to live there.

Best California song? “San Francisco (Open Your Golden Gate)” and “California Dreamin’”

How would your California dream day unfold? I’d enjoy an early morning espresso while viewing the magnificent vista into Napa Valley, and later drive into San Francisco to see a local dance company performance, or symphony, or an opera, or a film. I take great pride in the fact that we founded American Zoetrope, our independent film studio, in San Francisco. The Sentinel Building, located in what is now known as North Beach, is the the incubator of many of our art endeavors whether one speaks of the film history here, the award-winning literary magazine we’ve produced quarterly for 21 years (Zoetrope All-Story), or the Italian cuisine enjoyed in our Cafe Zoetrope. These places are all personal to me and my family, and while I’m continuing to innovate, it is always nice to come home to places we created years ago that still feel authentic, pleasurable, and of the highest quality.

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Erica Davis/Getty Images

Northern California

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine.

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me." —singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

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Erica Davis/Getty Images

Half Moon Bay

This delightful little beach town possesses serious surf DNA and is just a short drive from San Francisco

Half Moon Bay is situated 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, but it might as well be half a world away. Home to the world-famous...

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Explore this quaint town that’s just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a steep hillside covered in chaparral and eucalyptus drops from Highway 101 to a flat, sunny shoreline, two...

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4 Awesome Wine Country Resorts

Luxurious spas, farm-to-table dining, and easy access to dozens of wineries—these Napa and Sonoma resorts offer the indulgent getaway you need

Ready for some “me time” amid decadent surroundings? Reserve your spot at one of these spectacular Wine Country resorts.


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Spotlight: Berkeley

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See a stunning museum, shop, and feast in the Bay Area’s most outspoken city

A haven for backyard artists and coffee-shop philosophers, Berkeley has deep roots in the Flower Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. But...

Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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The co-owner of the wildly popular Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa shares her story, along with a few Golden State favorites

Natalie Cilurzo will never forget the day everything changed for the Russian River Brewing Company. It was February 5, 2010—the first Friday in...

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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

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San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, golden-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers markets are...

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From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Museums, music, and a hint of bohemia

Nested near the city’s cupola-topped City Hall, impressive performance spaces in San Francisco present some of California’s—and the world’s—...

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Spotlight: San Jose

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Tech savvy, international flair

The first hit of this city’s unmistakable techy-ness starts right off the bat—if you get here by plane. Meet Space Observer, a 26-foot/7.9-meter-...

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Ranches, vineyards, and relaxed appeal east of San Francisco

With warm sun and wide-open spaces cradling vineyards, ranches, and wine-country estates, the Livermore Valley makes an appealing destination just...

It's simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn't be anywhere else -- it's so beautiful, and there's that location, and the sense of the free spirit. ... Who couldn't become ravenous in such a place?
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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city-park charmers, boisterous adventures—smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play.  These smaller parks offer old-...

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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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Kids get an inside look at wildlife, space, and more

From cool ways for your kids to learn about wildlife, to an insider’s look at a space station, to a chance to walk through a rain forest or learn about the night sky, there’s a bumper...

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San Francisco Bay Loop

Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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