Premium Membership: Francis Ford Coppola Winery Focuses on Grower Relations and Quality in the Vineyard
Article and Photo By Rachel LaFranchi, Farm News Production Editor
Published July 1, 2015
|Jared Kunde, Lise Asimont and John McKenna are part of Coppola Winery’s Grower Relations Team.|
When most people think about Francis Ford Coppola Winery, they think about the restaurant, Rustic, the pool or the film director who started the winery. Even those thinking about the wine don’t often realize that Coppola relies heavily on its grower relations team and the network they’ve built across the state with vineyard owners.
It is a 12 hour drive from the tip to the tail of the vineyards Coppola Winery manages. While their home base is in Sonoma County just outside the small town of Geyserville, the majority of their wine is purchased from 10 counties across California.
Coppola grows 60 acres of their own grapes including cabernet sauvignon, petite syrah, cabernet franc and a bit of merlot and zinfandel. Lise Asimont, director of grower relations, joked that their block of zin, which is a quarter of an acre, might be one of the smallest around.
In all, Coppola produces 62 different wines, two of which will soon be released. Currently, they only produce wine from grapes grown in California. They are constantly expanding their programs, and recent expansions include their rosé and sparkling wine programs.
“We work for an artist, so it’s constant growth,” said Asimont. “You wake up and you’re never bored – it’s always fun.”
Coppola Winery is a privately held company owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola and his wife Eleanor. The employees emphasize the owners’ involvement in the business and Francis’ vision that has shaped the development of the business and created an internationally known brand.
“The business is a collaborative effort, and everyone has a say in what happens. It allows us to react quickly, something that makes us unique.” said Jared Kunde, grower relations representative.
Asimont emphasizes how everyone on their team has to be able to walk into a vineyard in another part of the state and be prepared for any challenges that arise. Their team needs to be up to date on the issues their growers are facing throughout the state.
“We go to lots of seminars and get to focus on all kinds of current issues facing the industry,” said John McKenna, viticulture technician. “We’re going to do everything we can to help our vineyard partners.”
For Coppola, the choice to become a Farm Bureau Premium Member was easy. Coppola knows that Farm Bureau does a lot for local growers and without the growers they wouldn’t be as successful as they are. They recommend Premium Membership to all their fellow wineries and growers.
“Premium membership was an excellent choice,” said Asimont. “A lot of wineries our size rely so heavily on our growers and this is a great way to support them. A lot of people romanticize wine, but they forget it’s an ag product. Quality starts in the vineyard.”
The future of Coppola holds a possible expansion to vineyards in Oregon and a new line of wines in the fall.