It was a personal record. For three mornings in a row, I woke up deeply and thoroughly refreshed. But how? Was it the crisp, clean air? The peace and quiet? The nightly campfires and free-flowing wine? Most likely, it was all of the above.
I was glamping at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, after all.
Over the course of four days last month I got to experience the acclaimed winery, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, in a totally unique way: by staying there 24/7. Terra Glamping, a luxury glamping company founded by Rebecca Martin and David Levine, pitched the spacious tents kitted out with rugs, dressers, memory foam beds, and side tables. The rest of the grounds were also simply but comfortably appointed, with a breakfast tent, hammock, even a plush sofa for sinking into. (And yes, there were fully functional bathrooms and showers a short stroll away.)
By fully immersing myself in the environment, I tried out things an everyday visitor wouldn't have access to. For example: early one morning, viticulturist and Director of Grower Relations Lise Aliment showed me the ins-and-outs of picking, sampling and tasting Cabernet grapes. As we traipsed through the vines, Aliment taught me to "always pass the first and last five vines" when picking samples, and that "grape leaves with brown edges indicate a magnesium deficiency." I also got an insider's peek at the neighboring Virginia Dare Winery, one of America's first wine brands. In an effort to help revitalize the once-ailing Virginia Dare, Coppola purchased it last year. (And its highly-anticipated Native American-inspired restaurant is to open any day now, too.)
While falling asleep and waking up in the great outdoors was bliss, the most memorable takeaway from the experience was during a winery tour with an affable, easy-going gentleman named Jim: "With the same bottle of wine, you could be tasting strawberries, while another could be tasting banana. But guess what? It doesn't matter. Wine is all about bringing you pleasure."
I'll drink to that.