August 25, 2006
Francis Ford Coppola Moves On

Act two of Francis Ford Coppola's latest production is under way. Act one - Moving In - commenced earlier this year when he took possession of the landmark Chateau Souverain winery just west of Highway 101 at Geyserville in northern Sonoma County. Act two - Moving On - involves restyling the facility to accommodate Coppola's winemaking and hospitality goals. Act three - Moving Ahead - will be the final remodeling stage. By this time next year, the project is expected to be complete. And maybe by then the large and striking chalet-style facility will have an identity. For now it's The Winery With No Name. Coppola has wrapped the sign over the gate at the entrance with a banner saying "Francis Ford Coppola, Moving On."

In the meantime, the place is open. People are lining up at the tasting counter to sample Coppola wines, made either here or at his Napa Valley winery. The gift shop is stocked with his pastas and pasta sauces, t-shirts and aprons, his favorite style of notebooks, pencils and pencil sharpeners, and his literary magazine Zoetrope All-Story.

Also open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily is the Moving On Cafe, which features a salad bar, a sandwich of the day, and a concise menu of small plates like smoked salmon, marinated olives, artisan cheeses and salumi, along with assorted pizzas. To judge by the "Sofia" we had for lunch - finely sliced prosciutto, a garden of arugula and shavings of parmigiano ($13.50) - the pizzas are superb, in part for their hot, dark and crackly crusts.

On the way out we no longer could resist Coppola's savvy merchandising, and picked up a copy of the CD "Senza Mamma: The Songs of Francesco Pennino," who was Coppola's composer grandfather. According to the liner notes, the songs "vividly depict the life and spirit of the early Italian immigrants to America - full of heartfelt longing for home and family left behind, of love lost and found, and of the desire to create a better life in the new world." F. Rocco Ruggiereo does the singing, and from what I've heard so far the mournful music is more of love lost than found.

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