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Gary Barlettano

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And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Gary Barlettano » Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:04 am

I rarely travel up SR-29 anymore. It costs too much to taste. There are too many people. And commercialism is rampant. But Zari wanted to take me to the Rutherford Grill for a Father's Day lunch. Along the way, she also desired to visit Niebaum-Coppola.

Well, we drove up the drive to the Rubicon Estate. (It's been so long that I hadn't been aware of the name change.) And, lo and behold, we get a little flyer telling us that it would cost $25.00 per person just to drive onto Inglenook's hallowed grounds. (There are other wineries with heftier fees, but at least you can get through the door without a ticket.) I asked whether we could simply poke around the gift shop for a while. The answer was "no." One non-drinking person in the vehicle could get in free as the "designated driver." Other than that, one had to pony up the money for a 5 wine taste, winery tour, access to the museum, and valet parking. And to quote the flyer, "These privileges are available to the guest for a period of three days ..." Generous. Guess I won't be seeing the inside of that estate anymore.

Otherwise we had a pleasant day. We stopped at the Napa Valley Olive Oil Company, visited Peju Province, got wait-listed at the Rutherford Grill, and ended up eating at Tra Vigne. We topped it all off with a shopping spree at the Napa Premium Outlets.

$25.00! Kiss my grits!
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Randy Buckner » Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:53 am

I might not have been so polite, Gary.... I wonder how long this will actually last?
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Gary Barlettano » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:06 am

I don't know. I didn't ask too many questions except for where I could make a U turn. It seems so freakin' counterintuitive. Perhaps they were getting too much traffic and not enough sales and just wanted to let the "serious" fans through the gate? Beats me. But I know that place from way back and it's a cryin' shame that that little chunk of history ... and I mean Inglenook and not the Godfather ... has been made that much more inaccessible. Oh well, who says you have to share!?
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Ian Sutton » Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:24 pm

If discouraging drive-by visitors is what they want to do, then making it "by appointment only" would make sense.

However I fear this sounds more like a "business model" to extract greater value from the tourism side of the business.

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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:05 pm

Gary - I don't know if my grits is what I would have told them to kiss.

That's really too bad. I thought of Coppola's place as a great one to take visitors who weren't all that into the geekier side of wine. Very colorful grounds, nice buildings, overpriced wine, etc. But $25 just to get in??? I won't be back.

Out of curiosity, do you know if that outrageous fee is applied to the cost of any purchases?

Mike
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:41 pm

Mike Filigenzi (Sacto) wrote:Out of curiosity, do you know if that outrageous fee is applied to the cost of any purchases?


Mike, The flyer I have doesn't mention anything about applying the ticket price to a wine purchase. I, however, did not ask that question, but it doesn't seem that way.

I understand Mr. Coppola bought a winery in Geyserville. Maybe that will be a more accessible venue while the Rubicon Estate remains somewhat exclusive. Pure speculation ...

I would suppose we have no inherent right to enter the wineries from where we purchase our wine so all I can do is say "no" to the crazy fee and be on my way. As a business model, it just doesn't seem to make sense though. Oh well, he *is* the millionaire and I *am* still pounding the pavement for a few shekels so who am I to question!?
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Hoke » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:57 am

I understand Mr. Coppola bought a winery in Geyserville. Maybe that will be a more accessible venue while the Rubicon Estate remains somewhat exclusive. Pure speculation ...


But very good speculation. The official line is that the Niebaum-Coppola estate is to become Rubicon wine only, and the Hwy101/Alexander Valley site will become the location for the "lesser" wines---the Rosso and such, as well as some other new ones soon to come.

I think the closest thing to what Coppola is doing with Rubicon is the Opus One, which has long been closed to the general public. With Rubicon, if you have any clout (i.e., rich, connected, or a journalist who will give good press), you can rest assured that you won't be charged any fee.

And with anyone but journalists, the fee doesn't really mean anything anyway. :^)

Hey, keeps out the rifraff.
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:52 am

Hey, keeps out the rifraff.


That depends on your definition of "riffraff!"

Coincidentally, ZAP is holding a potluck BYOB at the new place in August. To quote the announcement, "This event celebrates the contributions Italian grape growers and winery owners have made in nurturing and preserving the humble zinfandel grape. Representatives from various Northern Sonoma Italian-namesake wineries and vineyards will be on hand to talk about their history."
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Sam Platt » Fri Jun 30, 2006 3:23 pm

I think if he woke up from a nap to find himself cuddled up with a stallion's head Francis might decide to just waive that parking fee... If you know what I mean. :twisted:
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Re: And what if Caesar had been charged $25.00 to cross the Rubicon?

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:24 pm

I just sent a e-mail to the Rubicon Estate marketing folks and suggested they review this thread and perhaps give us their two cents. :wink:
And now what?
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Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Gary Barlettano » Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:49 am

As mentioned, I dropped Rubicon Estate a line and today I received the following note in reply:


Dear Mr. Barlettano,

Thank you for your message to Rubicon Estate and your comments about your recent visit. The guest fee to Rubicon Estate allows you access to the Estate, a tasting of five wines including Rubicon, the Legacy historical tour, access to Library wines, the Centennial Museum, valet parking and concierge for three days. We participate in the Napa Neighbors program and all trade members are complimentary.

The winery name change and guest fee has allowed us to focus the guest experience on our Estate wines, wine education, history of the Chateau and wine making at the Estate. In the past the number of guests has precluded us from providing this level of service to guests.

I do hope that you will visit us again and enjoy the new Rubicon Estate experience.

Catherine M. Durand
Director, Retail Operations
Rubicon Estate

707/968-1114
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:54 am

Gary Barlettano wrote:As mentioned, I dropped Rubicon Estate a line and today I received the following note in reply:


So how do you feel about the experience now that they've given a response, Gary? It doesn't look like they're apologetic ... they made a policy decision and they're sticking to it ... but they did explain their thinking and didn't just ignore your question. What do you think?
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:04 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Gary Barlettano wrote:As mentioned, I dropped Rubicon Estate a line and today I received the following note in reply:


So how do you feel about the experience now that they've given a response, Gary? It doesn't look like they're apologetic ... they made a policy decision and they're sticking to it ... but they did explain their thinking and didn't just ignore your question. What do you think?


Robin, in my experience as an inveterate letter-writer, I didn't necessarily expect an answer. I will credit them for that. I certainly didn't think they would apologize for anything. Why should they? There is, as I mention somewhere in this thread, no inherent right of the wine-drinker to be able to visit wineries. To be sure, it's an important marketing tool for the winery, but each winery will wield this tool in its own way.

The folks at Rubicon Estate have a business to run and will run it as they see fit. But they are now more aware than probably before that a certain demographic within the wine-drinking community rejects what they are doing and that it's getting some "press." They can account for it in any way they wish. That's up to them. It's their profit margin.

Now, if I were a cynic, I might suggest that the only reason I got an answer was because they did not want my posting another note saying that they ignored my first note in this widely read forum. But I'm certainly not that cynical.

How do I feel? I feel like I've accomplished what I set out to do. I've provided feedback in an attempt to help shape the things in my life. (It's kinda like voting to me.) I've informed my friends and neighbors here in the WLDG thus allowing them to make a more informed decision in case they should be headed toward the Rubicon Estate. And more than not patronizing or promoting Rubicon Estate I cannot do. It's a simple consumer decision. They have a product which I choose not to afford myself. As pleasant an experience that particular property might be, it just isn't worth the price of admission to me.
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Shaji » Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:11 pm

I have avoided Napa because of the crowds. Now, I am finding other reasons here. Napa neighbour's program? Now that is funny. If all the "neighbours" decide to charge $25 to enter/taste, I don't think I can afford to stay for 3 days there! I think, they just don't like us cheapskates. Free tastings you say? where do you think you are- Amador County? By the way, I heard they make good good wines in Amador, which is where I will be this weekend.
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by James Roscoe » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:42 pm

Shaji wrote:Free tastings you say? where do you think you are- Amador County? By the way, I heard they make good good wines in Amador, which is where I will be this weekend.

Where in Amador Co.? Some of my favorite Zins come from up that way. Please report back.
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Shaji » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:04 pm

I will be there from July 15th through July 17th. I am hoping to visit some wineries including (but definitely not limited to):Domaine Terre Rouge,Story,Vino Nocetto,Drytown Cellars,Sutter Ridge
My wife is the "true" Zin lover in our family. So I would appreciate any recommendations you could offer. I am hoping to keep a blog of this little trip at http://shajimathewsworld.blogspot.com/
Shaji
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by James Roscoe » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:44 pm

Shaji wrote:I will be there from July 15th through July 17th. I am hoping to visit some wineries including (but definitely not limited to):Domaine Terre Rouge,Story,Vino Nocetto,Drytown Cellars,Sutter Ridge
My wife is the "true" Zin lover in our family. So I would appreciate any recommendations you could offer. I am hoping to keep a blog of this little trip at http://shajimathewsworld.blogspot.com/
Shaji


My wife and I are big fans of Sobon Vinyards. Paul sobon, the son of the owner is a truly nice guy. They make some typical big bold blow your socks off Armador Co. Zins. The rest of their line is nice too. He does some good stuff with Italian varietals and has a good entry level Cab. Give them a looksy if you're in the area.
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:48 am

Shaji wrote:I will be there from July 15th through July 17th. I am hoping to visit some wineries including (but definitely not limited to):Domaine Terre Rouge,Story,Vino Nocetto,Drytown Cellars,Sutter Ridge
My wife is the "true" Zin lover in our family. So I would appreciate any recommendations you could offer. I am hoping to keep a blog of this little trip at http://shajimathewsworld.blogspot.com/
Shaji


If you have the time to head up to Fairplay (a bit up the road from the Shenandoah Valley) do not miss Cedarville Vineyards. They will require an appointment, but it's well worth it. Mt. Aukum Vineyards is also up that way. Both offer excellent wines - delicious zins and very nice syrahs. If you're willing to head further up the road from there, try Holly's Hill and Sierra Vista. Both have wonderful wines and if it's a clear day, Sierra Vista has the best views in the Amador/El Dorado region.

Mike
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Re: Comment From The Rubicon Estate

by Shaji » Fri Jul 14, 2006 6:25 pm

Mike,
Thanks again. I had decided to take your suggestion when you had replied to me in the previous forum where I lurked under the alias of renobeekpr. I will be meeting Jonathan at Cedarville tomorrow at 11 am. I will definitely let this group know of all my experiences. Merci beaucoup.
Shaji

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