Tag Archives: francis ford coppola

A Day with the Coppolas

I don’t like to play the “I got to do this and you didn’t” card, but I was recently invited to a couple events that were pretty incredible that I HAD to share with my readers.

I  was invited to spend an evening (along with about 100 of my closest friends) at Lakewood Theater with the one and only Francis Ford Coppola.  Even more amazingly, FFC Winery invited me to join Francis’ wife, Eleanor, for their “Women in Wine” lunch.


I’ll just say this … the whole day was incredible.  At lunch, I was among some of the most illustrious women in the Dallas wine scene in the Red Slippers Suite at the Hotel Zaza.  The fashionable gaggle of ladies was greeted with a glass of the Coppola Winery’s sparkling wine, Sofia Blanc de Blanc, and headed up to the suite for our three-course lunch by Dragonfly.  We were asked to go around the table and toast the woman to our left and right, but were told that Francis’ superstition was that, if you didn’t maintain eye contact during a toast, you were guaranteed eight years of bad sex.  Just to be safe … we all followed the instructions!

Each course welcomed incredible conversation to go with the great food and the perfectly-paired wines.  The first course was a Bluepoint Oyster Spring Roll with Tobiko Caviar Creme Fraiche paired with another glass of their Sofia Blanc de Blanc.  While we enjoyed this, Eleanor asked each of us to share why we love wine.  Each woman’s answer was incredibly different, but intriguing.

Eleanor then told us a bit about her life with Francis.  Did you know that she’s an accomplished film and sculpture artist who has shown throughout the world, an author, a documentary filmmaker?  She is, no doubt, the strong woman that made the man.

Our second delicacy was a Baby Kale Salad with house-cured duck ham paired with the 2012 Gia Pinot Noir, named for and created by Francis’ grand-daughter and director/screenwriter of the soon-to-be-released “Palo Alto”.  This wine is not yet available to the public, but when it is, get your hands on it as it’ll be perfect for a summer dinner on the patio.

The third course was Roasted Prime NY Strip Steak with Shitake Mushrooms paired with Eleanor’s own wine, Eleanor.  Eleanor had a large part in creating the wine whose label bears her name and her very own art, and the wine was as complex as the woman herself.

Dessert … oh dessert … was a buffet of some of Dragonfly’s favorites with more Sophia.  Dessert was actually sad as it meant that the experience was coming to an end.

Before adjourning, we were all given permission to call our gracious and dynamic hostess “Ellie”.  I’ll probably stick with Eleanor, but knowing there’s the option is kind of … awesome.


The evening held as many delights, including light bites and various Coppola wines poured generously throughout the event venue, the historic Lakewood Theater.  Francis spoke about his lifelong passion of filmmaking, his accidental yet fortuitous foray into the wine business, and most importantly, his family.  Hearing such an inimitable man speak about the small things in life that he enjoys, like writing songs for his grandchildren, was a real treat.

Overall, it was a really memorable day.  As much as I loved the Coppola wines, knowing the story behind some makes me love them even more!

Photo Credit: Lisa Stewart

Tasting in the Dark

Close your eyes for one whole minute.  (No peeking!)  Take in the room.  Take a deep breath through your nose and smell the scents wafting around you.  Listen to the hum of your AC.  Feel the carpet beneath your feet.  Taste the flavors lingering on your tongue.  (If you can taste things on your tongue, then pop a breath mint.)

Losing a sense can make your other senses sharper.  With that premise, Tasting in the Dark was born.  A monthly tasting hosted by Henry “Hoby” Wedler at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California’s Alexander Valley, tasters are blindfolded* and led through a tasting of Coppola wines.  Between the decadent wine and the exquisitely eloquently commentary from Hoby, the experience is inimitable.

I was honored to have been invited to the Dallas stop of the Tasting in the Dark tour at SĒR in the Hotel Anatole. After my last experience with FFC Wines, I was happy to explore more of their offerings.  Hoby led our group through a tasting of four Coppola Diamond wines, two whites and two reds, and spoke with the group in detail about the smells, tastes, and textures of each.  We each ventured a guess what varietal of wine we had in-hand, but for the most part failed miserably, some of us at times even guessing the wrong color.

Our host, Hoby is a grad student at UC-Davis who founded a chemistry camp for the blind and hosts the FFCW’s monthly Tasting in the Dark, and is uniquely qualified to lead this tasting as he has been blind since birth.  Hoby’s descriptions of the wines is a thing of beauty.  This guy … can seriously turn a phrase.  He had our group so wicked hungry by the end of the tasting with his flowery descriptions of the meals that he’d recommend pairing with each wine.  Luckily, we had lunch waiting for us.

I’d love to regale you with the intense flavors of the wines we tasted, but since we were blindfolded, I wasn’t able to take notes.  That said, I’ll simply list the wines below, and encourage you to try each and every one because they were all delicious and worth a taste.  Take your time before diving in and explore the smells and flavors of each.  You’ll be surprised when you let the wines speak to you!

  • 2012 Diamond Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2012 Diamond Pinot Noir 
  • 2012 Diamond Chardonnay (Hoby recommends serving with seared pork belly)
  • 2011 Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon (Hoby recommends serving with a smoked burger with a brioche bun topped with avocados, caramelized onions, and smoked cheddar)

If you’re ever touring the Alexander Valley, make sure you make Francis Ford Coppola Winery a stop on your agenda. 

*These blindfolds were leGIT.  I couldn’t see s**t, and my eyes burned like a vampire’s at dawn when I took it off.

***Please note: this tasting and subsequent meal was on the house.***