Francis Ford Coppola has brought absolute magic to the big screen with iconic films like American GraffitiThe Godfather TrilogyDracula and Apocalypse Now.

He has likewise bottled magic in the form of the more than 40 wines produced at his state-of-the-art winemaking facility in Sonoma County.So is it a shocker that a visit to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in the heart of the Alexander Valley is a little … well … magical? Hardly.

A far cry in many ways from the smaller, more intimate wineries for which Sonoma County is known, the Francis Ford Coppola winery is a more sprawling, splashy affair. I dare say there is something almost Hollywood-esque in the majesty of the winery’s impressive entrance and perfectly manicured acres of vineyards (all of which are sustainably farmed for the record). That said, despite its size, the character of Coppola is very much in keeping with the more organic, unpretentious spirit of Sonoma Wine Country.

A veritable stable of friendly greeters welcome guests to the estate and direct to them to the experiences that best suit their interests.

Want a tasting? Pop over to the Tasting Room and choose a sampling of Coppola’s best.

Want a tour? Call ahead and make a reservation and experience that state-of-the-art winemaking facility I referenced above.

A fan of Coppola’s body of work? Visit the movie gallery and see a collection of Coppola’s awards and memorabilia from some of his most famous movies.

Want a relaxing day by the pool in a park-like setting? Book a cabine at Coppola’s pool and sunbathing terrace and while away a fabulous afternoon in wine country – sampling great wines and noshing on nibbles from the Pool Café.

This latter experience is something that particularly sets the Francis Ford Coppola Winery apart from the rest. With two massive swimming pools surrounded by chaise lounge chairs and 28 European-style personal changing rooms (referred to as cabines), each equipped with a private shower and available to rent for the day, the pool and sunbathing terrace give Coppola the easy feeling of a resort.

And it is that feeling that inspires visitors to linger at the property. You see, Coppola is more than just a place to taste wine, it is a full-bodied getaway inspired by wine. Sip, dip, nosh, tour and sip again … how fabulous is that?

Equally perfect for gay families or a gay gaggle of friends celebrating a special occasion, the pool and terrace at Coppola is – in a word – winning!

Better still, it’s a bargain, particularly for a group. A 2012 Cabine Package costs just $125 and includesFour pool passes, up to four lounge chairs, use of four towels, two wine tasting flights plus two “surprise” tastes of exclusive wines, and two souvenir water bottles. (And sometimes there are specials … just FYI).

Then, if a day of lolling about and sipping wine in the sun isn’t enough fabulous for you and you want to keep the fun going well into the evening, cap the day with dinner under the stars at Rustic, the winery’s full-service restaurant, where Francis Ford Coppola shares his personal pantheon of recipes which emphasize family-style cooking and fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the property’s organic herb and produce garden.

Sounds like a perfect day in the Alexander Valley does it not?

Find out more about Francis Ford Coppola Winery at

Note: Every Sunday through Oct. 14, experience the 2012 harvest with the special Italian Harvest Tour. Begin the day with a rustic breakfast overlooking Alexander Valley. Afterwards, you’ll pick grapes as the morning mist rises over the vineyard for brix sampling, test barrel and tank samples, punch down grapes in open-top fermentors, and sample fermenting juice. Complete your day with winemaker Q&A and an exclusive, five-course family-style lunch. Cost is $199 per person and reservations are required.