Francis Ford Coppola. (Photo: Featureflash /

Francis Ford Coppola. (Photo: Featureflash /

The Academy Award-winning director, best known for his Godfather series and Apocalypse Now, looked at the Today Show crew and joked “Who’s the director here? I’m the actor today.”

Once Coppola was given his cue, he unveiled the new name of the former Geyser Peak Winery – Virginia Dare Winery. Coppola owns this winery and purchased it in 2013.

“We’ve waited a long time to do this,” Coppola said. “It’s been a mystery for a year.”

The vintner replaced one mystery with another.

Virginia Dare was the first child of English parents born in the New World. But a few years after the colony was settled in the late 1500s, it disappeared without a trace. The settlement was the Roanoke Colony, in what is now known as North Carolina.

Coppola chose the name because he’s a history buff and a fan of folklore, especially when they meet in mystery.

This past year, before the winery was officially christened, it rolled out four wines to serve as clues.

White Doe, 2013 California White Blend, 13.5 percent $18.

Manteo, 2012 Sonoma County Red Wine, $22.

Two Arrowheads, 2013 Paso Robles, 13.5 percent, $23.

The Lost Colony, 2013 Sonona County Red Wine, $23.

Coppola has made a tradition of creating a mystery when it comes to unveiling his winery names.

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, announced in 2009, was unnamed for a year after Coppola purchased the former property of Chateau Souverain in 2006. Then in 2007, the winery had a two- year stint as Rosso & Bianco, then its flagship.

The same piecemeal approach happened across the Mayacamas Mountains, as well. Coppola purchased Napa Valley’s Inglenook in 1995, renaming it Niebaum-Coppola. In 2006, it was renamed Rubicon, the winery’s flagship wine. Finally, Coppola came full circle  in 2011 when he adopted the winery’s original name – Inglenook – after securing the trademark.

Coppola the vintner is like Coppola the director when it comes to unveiling – unrushed.

Apocalypse Now suffered cost over-runs and plenty of delays. But Coppola later said “the things we’re criticized for are the things we later win awards for.”

Nothing could be more true.

The film, which premiered in 1979, was honored with the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. In addition, the film was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2000. Finally, the film was ranked #14 in the Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll.

Coppola’s unrushed unveilings are refreshing. It’s inspiring to have one of the best risk takers on record roaming around Wine Country.

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