Francis Ford Coppola, the Godfather himself, graced Denver with his humble wisdom on March 7th at the SIE Film Center. Coppola spoke about his exceptional career in film and in wine at the intimate Coppola Wine event. Francis Ford Coppola’s personal stories, lighthearted sense of humor, and youthful energy was phenomenal. Here are some of the many poignant and insightful quotes from the 5 time Oscar winning director. Pour a glass of Claret and enjoy.
Coppola Wine has a rich and unorthodox history. Francis Ford Coppola took the guests from his winery’s very beginning in Inglenook and the crown jewel estate of the Napa Valley, to Sonoma and his now flagship Coppola winery. Francis calls it, “a wine wonderland for all ages.” The new Coppola estate in Sonoma boasts a fantastic pool, five star restaurant, and stunning vineyard views. Francis also put some of his favorite film memorabilia in the estate, the desk from Godfather, to name just one. It is a must see day-cation spot for the Coppola in us all. The Coppola winery is a special one. It is a risky, family-friendly experience that has never been done before.
“If people around me tell me I’m crazy, then I know I’m on to something.”
The winery reflects how much Coppola cherishes family. As does the wine itself. Coppola has named almost every new release from his label after his offspring. Those closest to him were always the most inspiring. Eleanor, a delicious and strong blend from Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley, is an ode to Coppola’s wife. Francis told daughter Sofia Coppola (5th generation Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation) that she would be drinking Sofia wine at her wedding. Sure enough, with Sofia’s sleek and stunning pink design, the wedding hit was Sofia white wine. Sheer talent and ambition just runs in the Coppola family. His granddaughter Gia, whose inherited her mother’s fashion sense and talent, has her own Gia sparkling white wine. Coppola has many other grandchildren as well. To honor them, he has written, sang, and orchestrated a song for each. In a moment of pride and love during the event, he broke out in song to the recordings of these odes. The crowd swooned. Truly a bucket list moment for everyone in the audience.
His beautiful and lively mother Italia Coppola (maiden name Pennino) wanted a wine to commemorate her side of the family.
“She was an interesting, very magical lady. She was a very beautiful woman, when I was a kid they’d always say, ‘Your mother looks like a movie star.’ Anyways, she came to me and said, ‘Coppola this, Coppola that, I’m sick of everything Coppola! You’re a Pennino as much as a Coppola.’ So I wanted to commemorate my mother and the Pennino side of my family. I took my grandfather, Francesco Pennino’s logo from his music roles and his sheet music and I always loved the Zinfandel on the property. So I took that and used the design for my Zinfandel and I called it Edizione Pennino. That’s a pattern in my life, I tend to make a wine for some person or some wedding or something and it turns out that it just persists. I have the odd circumstances of turning all my family into products. It’s at least a way to control them.”
Coppola’s sense of humor is only matched by his determination. In his life’s work, an endless quest for grapes and Oscars, he has succeeded. One of the best stories he told involved his 5 Oscar statues and his mother. As Coppola opened up about his struggles with debt from film making which reached nearly $25 million dollars in his mid thirties. It was stressful for him and his wife. Mostly, that he couldn’t make the film, Apocalypse Now, the way he really wanted to. At this young age, even with the immeasurable success from the Godfather, Coppola threw his 5 Oscars out the window where they shattered on the pavement below his home. Italia (his mother) brought the broken pieces of Oscars straight to The Academy. They immediately gave her 5 new ones. Mother does know best. Even Coppola’s crowning achievements had to be destroyed for them to truly be appreciated. Coppola went on to speak about his blockbuster films in comparison to art films, as he called it, film versus cinema:
“I wanted to make a film that came out of my heart, and that I wrote, and wasn’t just going to fit whatever was the definition of what could be a successful movie. I swore that when I finished these ten films, I was never gonna do it again. I was going to write personal things and if I had nothing to write, or if it took me four years, I would take four years. A lot of people ask me, what do you love better, film or cinema? Once you experience cinema, it’s your first love. It’s a magical art form, and it’s quite young, it’s only a hundred years old. Every time I had made a film or done something in hopes of making money, it didn’t. Every time in my life when I just did what I loved without any idea whether it would have financial success, just because I loved it, the money came.”
Inspiring and down to earth are understatements for the legend that is Francis Ford Coppola. He hinted at his next film project as being one of the most ambitious of his life. He kept most of the details under wraps yet I managed to ask a closing question in search of more information on this long anticipated film project. “It’s going to be big, a film, actually a four part series that I wrote. My life’s work.” The future is bright for Francis Ford Coppola who at 74, is still young at heart. 303 Magazine cannot wait to see what movies and inspired wines he has in store.
Don’t forget to purchase your tickets to Denver Fashion Weekend 2014, April 3-6! Tickets on sale now!