Family Vineyard's Tune
to Your Tastebuds
Rich and Connie Frank are enjoying the fruits of their
labor of love
famous Candide goes out into the world to examine
its wonders and at the end of his journey returns to his beloved
homeland to reconnect with the French soil and plant tomato
vines. Working on the land, enjoying its fruits and thus staying
grounded seems to be part of every man's soul, at least in
literature. It is a desire that Americans can well relate
to. Here's the story of a man who left his successful career
in the entertainment industry to plant not tomatoes but vines
of a different fruit. Of course, as with every story, there
is more to it than meets the eye. Meet Rich Frank.
Frank, co-owner of Frank Family Vineyards, has an impressive
resume in Hollywood: former chairman of Walt Disney Television,
and Telecommunications, head of Buena Vista, president of
Walt Disney Studios, president of the Paramount Television
Group of Paramount Pictures, president of the Academy of Television
Arts and Sciences, chairman and CEO of Comcast and so forth.
In audience terms that translates to success with such hits
as "Golden Girls," "Cheers," "Entertainment
Tonight," "The Lion King," "Aladdin"
and numerous others.
|For the love of the vine...
1991 he decided to "cut" the script of his new life.
The time was ripe to pursue his love for food and wine. He
bought a second home in the wine country, on the Silverado
Trail. The house came with a vineyard and, unsure of how to
manage that project, Frank asked Koerner Rombauer of Rombauer
Vineyards for his expert advice. That decision led a deep
friendship and to his offering to buy sparkling wine legend's
Hans Kornell's Kornell Champagne Cellars, a winery then stuck
in bankruptcy. Frank partnered with Rombauer and began producing
under the Frank-Rombauer label. Ten years later, in 2001,
that project morphed into Frank
Family Vineyards as we know it today, a production that
creates still wines and sparklers à la méthode
champenoise. Frank Family cut down from making a lot of varied
sparkling wines (100,000 cases) to a lot less (5,000 cases)
and to evolving towards reds. They also bought Napa Cellars
and today Frank family distributes nationally. Of late, Sangiovese
from the Rutherford hill house vineyard is garnering some
good feedback. But the true star of the batch is the Winston
Hill Cuvée with 495 cases produced. Here is an exclusive
wine that any Hollywood exec (at $100 a bottle) should buy.
to his background, Frank says: “To produce a good show,
you need a good script, bringing that concept to the wine
business, I think we have good grapes here, and a great winemaking
team to boot."
and son Paul in the vineyard
team includes winemaker Todd Graff. And, of course, Rombauer,
whose great aunt Irma penned The Joy of Cooking. As recently
as 2003, the grandfather of three, whose passions include
collecting automobiles, couldn't resist his considerable knack
in the entertainment field. He is Chairman of the Board of
The Firm, one of Hollywood's top agencies whose roster includes
Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Benicio del Toro. Seems
like the wine country lifestyle provides just the right grounding
to once again reach for Hollywood's stars.
shan't know whether Frank encountered as many obstacles as
the famous Candid. What we do know is that Frank enjoys his
life with one rugged foot firmly planted in the vineyards
and one well-heeled shoe in Hollywood. His sons Paul and Darryl
Frank have followed their father's food steps. Paul, who worked
in the entertainment field as an agent and studio exec for
more than 14 years, helped found NapaStyle, a multi-media
lifestyle brand (TV, books, catalog, website) that highlights
Wine Country living, while Darryl is the co-head of DreamWorks
stone built winery
with Connie, Frank's wife, the family leads winemaker dinners
and visits restaurants for special evenings to share their
story about their wine production.
is housed in the historic Larkmead Winery, a national historical
landmark dating to 1884 whose tasting room is adorned with
music memorabilia from his days in the Entertainment business.
Visitors can visit the tasting rooms or enjoy samples in the
bucolic setting at picnic tables.
hours: Tasting room open daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information contact Tasting Room Manager
Dennis Zablovsky at 800-574-9463. www.frankfamilyvineyards.com