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A Wine Life

September 26, 1996|RUSS PARSONS

Napa Valley harvest festival, Sunday afternoon at the Coppola's: a green sward of lawn with views clear across the valley to Stag's Leap. In the background, the huge white Victorian house built by Gustave Niebaum at the end of the 19th century doesn't seem imposing at all with its wide, welcoming porches all around. You wouldn't guess that a famous film director lives here. The historic stone buildings of Francis Ford Coppola's Niebaum-Coppola Winery, formerly Inglenook, are just below.

A mariachi band strolls through the crowd, trumpets ringing. Kids are playing around the swimming pool and there is a vat of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for stomping. Carnitas are on the menu (very good, by the way) and Rubicon is on the wine list (the '84 is a particularly fine carnitas wine).

Just another day in paradise.

It's a good life Coppola and his wife, documentary maker Eleanor Coppola, have here, and they clearly were enjoying it as they mingled with a couple hundred guests: winery crews, film crews and assorted famous folk. Andy Garcia was there and so was George Lucas.

The best moment of the afternoon was when one of Lucas' kids took part in the grape stomp. Like any other yuppie dad, Lucas perched on the porch, pocket camera in hand, and shouted, "Come on, honey, look at me!"

So that's how the big directors do it.

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