RUTHERFORD, California – Inglenook’s vineyards and brand are now one again.
Movie and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola has purchased the storied California brand Inglenook to go with his farm in Rutherford, California. Coppola purchased the farm, but the brand was separated from the actual land in the 1970s.
The Inglenook brand, one of the best known in the U.S., has had a succession of owners since it was sold by the family Heublein. Most recently it was owned by Constellation Brands and then Wine Group. It was founded in 1879 by Gustave Neibaum. It was so grossly under-marketed that the current Inglenook website does not even have the history of the company posted. Quite odd because in wine in particular, the brand equity comes through a long tradition and history.
To help revive the brand even further, Coppola has hired a noted French wine expert to reinvigorate the operation. Philppe Bascaules has worked at Chateaux Margaux, and will supervised the 2011 harvest.
Coppola has been busily trying to recreate the past in order to put out a superior product today. Coppola told Financial Times:
The name might have been trashed and ruined, but people are still paying tens of thousands of dollars for bottles from the previous era. It all needs to be reunited.
The scenario with Inglenook applies to so many luxury and craft brands. Dozens of conglomerates have swallowed up hundreds of brand names, and turned them into commodities. When the brand gets separated from its geography, quality goes down and the authenticity of the brand disappears. It is not only with wine and food brands, but happens with consumer products as well. Companies then own so many brands that they cannot legitimately manage all of them, and so some good ones go fallow and are ignored.