When the winery was sold to the Barrett family
in the early 1970s, the focus returned to world-class wine-making, attention that paid off when
Chateau Montelena beat its French competitors
in the landmark 1976 Judgment of Paris.
The grand estate known today as Inglenook,
a Scottish term for a cozy corner, was built by
William C. Watson, a son-in-law of George
Yount, the first U.S. citizen to be ceded a Spanish land grant in Napa Valley. It was eventually
sold to the wealthy Alaskan fur trader Gustave
Niebaum, who wanted to create a great wine
property in the prime center of the valley. Niebaum commissioned architect William Mooser
to design the mansion and Hamden W. McIntyre to design the winery.
Niebaum continued to add acreage as adjacent farms became available, and he began
producing large quantities of high-quality
wines that he distributed across the country.
Inglenook wine was served at the White House
in 1891 and enjoyed a strong national reputation at the turn of the 20th century. Production
continued after Niebaum’s death until Prohibition, during which the company sold its grapes
as fruit. Upon Prohibition’s repeal, Niebaum’s
great-nephew John Daniel Jr., who had grown
up on the estate, ushered the label into its
second golden age, producing award-winning
wines including the 1941 cabernet sauvignon,
widely hailed as one of the finest cabernets ever
made. But profitability began to wane, and in
1964 the elderly Daniel reluctantly sold the
Inglenook name, winery and much of the land.
After Daniel’s death, the mansion and property were purchased by Francis Ford Coppola
with profits from The Godfather film franchise,
forming the Niebaum-Coppola Estate. Coppola
continued reassembling the original Niebaum
estate, restoring the grand château and eventually buying back the Inglenook name.
Much of the valley’s architecture is woven
from threads of its historic tradition. Robert
Mondavi’s 1966 winery bears the distinctive
mission-influenced minimalism of midcentury
architect Clifford May, “the father of the California ranch home.” As the first major winery
built after Prohibition, Mondavi designated
space for wine education through tours and
tastings, a novel idea at the time. The welcoming sculpture of a bear by Beniamino Bufano
was an early example of art amid the vines.
Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser
was a daring choice to design the carnival that is
Quixote Winery, his only project in the United
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