Wines From Rutherford, Napa Valley
Some Key Dates in Inglenook’s History
1871 – William C. Watson buys 78 acres of land at the base of Mount St. John, just west of Rutherford. He christens his property Inglenook, a Scottish phrase for “cozy corner” or “hearth.”
1879 – Captain Gustave Niebaum buys the Inglenook property as well as the adjoining Rohlwing Farm for $48,000. After extensive travel and study, Niebaum chooses Inglenook’s site, intuiting its extraordinary potential for growing grapes. Construction of the Chateau winery begins in 1881 and is completed in 1887. The first harvest is in 1882.
1975 – Searching for a modest “vacation cottage” in Napa Valley, Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchase a portion of what had been the Inglenook estate. They establish their own winery, which they call the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery.
1978 – The Niebaum-Coppola Estate produces its first vintage of Rubicon, a red Bordeaux-style blend, named after Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C., a small step that nevertheless began Rome’s civil war—”the point of no return.” The name is an apt metaphor for the Coppolas’ aim to create wines of the quality achieved by Inglenook at the height of its reputation.
1995 – The Property is reunited. The Coppolas successfully reunite the Estate after a separation of nearly 30 years by purchasing the remaining property of what had originally constituted Inglenook including its historic Chateau.
1997 – The Chateau is restored.
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Inglenook Again… And Always
With patient resolve and relentless negotiations over nearly four decades, the Coppolas fulfill the vow they made in 1975 by acquiring Inglenook’s name and trademark. Inglenook—land, name, and spirit—is whole once again.
In 2011, Philippe Bascaules of Chateau Mârgaux becomes Inglenook’s General Manager. After spending five years at Inglenook, Bascaules is invited to return to Chateau Mârgaux in 2016, and subsequently designs a schedule that allows him to continue to oversee operations at Inglenook as its Director of Winemaking. Bascaules says that his goal is to produce the best possible wines as expressions that faithfully convey the Estate’s terroir through “rigor, intellectual honesty, and instinctive passion.”
Inglenook covers approximately 1,700 contiguous acres with nearly 235 acres dedicated to vineyards. The variations in the Estate’s topography reflect the great diversity of Napa Valley itself–-from the loamy, well-drained soils at its rear to an expanse of vineyards with deeper, but finer soils located in front of the Chateau–-and contribute to the singularity of Inglenook’s terroir, a complex term incorporating the natural growing conditions of the specific site as well as the winemaker’s signature––with some ineffable quality arising from the two–-which distinguish the wine’s personality as unique.
Phillippe Bascaules, Inglenook’s Director of Winemaking
Philippe Bascaules, Inglenook’s Director of Winemaking since 2016, first came to Napa Valley from Bordeaux in 2011 as the Estate’s General Manager. His adventurous approach to winemaking—tempered at times by the wisdom of restraint—and his focus on long-term vineyard management are in keeping with the Coppolas’ commitment to restore Inglenook’s legacy of excellence and invigorate the potential of its terroir. Philippe feels that “a great wine should possess fantastic aromatic complexity and structure, but should also be a little bit mysterious, like a perfume. It is this delicate balance that interests me…not aggression and power.”
Born and bred in southwestern France, Philippe was a gifted student with a combined love of nature, science, and mathematics, a threesome of subjects that proved essential when he discovered his passion for wine at the age of 22. In 1990, after receiving a degree in Agricultural Engineering, with a specialty in oenology, from Montpellier University in the southeast of France, Philippe began his career at Château Margaux, one of France’s five First Growth Bordeaux estates, and went on to become Estate Director in 2000.
With the time he has spent at Inglenook, along with his experience of making some of the world’s most critically acclaimed wines, Philippe has acquired invaluable insights into all aspects of winemaking, and his vision is respectfully tied to the specificity of site. He believes quite strongly that every facet of the winemaking process—even the manner in which the grapes are first collected and handled—”has an importance, an effect on the final product,” an attitude that resonates with the same degree of care and foresight on which Inglenook was founded.