Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was known as Vista Hills Vineyard, a 20 year staple in the Dundee Hills producing award winning Pinot Noir wines. In 2018 The Family Coppola acquired the vineyards and existing tasting room changing the name to Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie. In the acquisition it was my understanding that the employees of Vista Hills Vineyard were retained containing the company commitment to take care of the individuals and land that make great wines.

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – Francis Ford Coppola
Why yes I do mean THE Francis Ford Coppola, director of Godfather among many other movies. In the 1970’s Coppola and his family bought land in Rutherford, California with the proceeds from the first Godfather movie. And between the years of directing the second Godfather movies and Apocalypse now they produces their first vintage as a family affair under the name of the Inglenook Winery.

Later he created a family friendly winery and play area in Geyserville, California. At the site of the former Chateau Souverain Winery he displays many of his movie memorabilia and Oscars along side the swimming pools, restaurants and various other activities at The Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Wineries and movies are not the only businesses under his umbrella though he has owned theaters, restaurants, cafes, resorts and literary publications through out the years.


Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – The Winery
Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was already producing high quality award winning Pinot Noirs which the region is known for when acquired. By keeping the staff the winery managed to maintain said quality and experience to continue to produce the same level of quality throughout the transition. My favorite however is their Rose, a limited edition wine that sells out very quickly.

The tasting room itself is perched on the top of the hills of their own vineyards overlooking the Dundee Hills and surrounding valleys. The house newly remolded offers a nice mix of woodsy comfort that blends with the surroundings and subtle refinement fitting of the wines. The tasting room being a former home, is built in the daylight basement style of the 70s so when you enter from the parking lot level you are on the main floor but once you pass through the tasting room to the deck you are on the second floor overlooking the valley. The lower level is a slightly stark room housing a car from one of Coppola’s movies and gigantic doors which open up to a lovely little patio and outdoor fire place. The tasting room flights as well as wines by the glass as well as an excellent cheese plate.


In addition to traditional tasting rooms services they also host yoga classes in the basement from time to time which I have had the pleasure of attending. As well as rental for special and private events. I was there once when they were getting ready for a dinner with Francis Ford Coppola and his family but sadly didn’t get to sneak a peak of any of them.


The winery also participates in the Equestrian Wine Tours which I went on not too long ago, which was a complete riot by the way. And entirely beginner friendly. All in all I would say Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie is one of my top 5 wineries in Oregon thanks to the kindness of staff, setting, delicious wines, and variety of fun special events they offer.



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Central Cemetery of Vienna

It is probably a little bit weird to visit a cemetery in a county that we had no known ancestors from and especially on New Years Day. But in our defense it was a beautiful sunny day (and as I found out later frigidly cold) day and quite literally everything else was closed. So we made several switches on public transport stopped at Hundertwasserhaus house, wandered around Simmering trying to find the next train stop and eventually found our way to Central Cemetery of Vienna Austria.

Central Cemetery of Vienna – HistoryThe Central Cemetery of Vienna is one of the largest cemeteries in the world by volume of people interned. The cemetery was a planned effort by city officials in the late 1800s who saw the population of the are rabidly expanding during the industrial revolution. Worried that the present day cemeteries would not suffice, the city bough a large plot of land outside the city limits to built a large cemetery that would work for the population growth for years to come.

The cemetery was designed by Karl Jonas Myluis a landscape architect from Frankfurt and Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli and opened in 1874 with very little fanfare but quite a bit of interfaith drama. The cemetery was intended to be interdenominational but the consecration of the cemetery was met with resistance, and the inclusion of other faiths was met with displeasure from certain Roman Catholic sects.  When the city announced they didn’t want a Catholic opening celebration and instead gave significant funds to create a Jewish section in the cemetery tensions rose even higher. In the end a small Catholic ceremony was allowed in order to keep the public from really noticing and eventually everyone calmed down.

In the beginning the cemetery was fairly unpopular due to its distance from the then slightly smaller city and less common ease of transport. To help change this over the years the city has added things like grave’s of honor to help pull in tourists. As strange as that sounds you should have seen the crowds around the honorary graves of Brahms, Strauss, and Motzart.  Beethoven and Shubert were actually interned here after having been moved from Wahringer Ostfriedhof in 1888.

Over the years as the city has become more diverse the cemetery has added additional sections and places of worship for various religios faiths. In additional to the original Catholic, Protestant and Jewish sections (one of which was partially destroyed during Kristallnacht) there is an Islamic section. Russian, Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian Orthodox are all provided sections within the cemetery as well as Buddhist and those of the Morman faith.

Central Cemetery of Vienna – VisitingThe Central Cemetery of Vienna is obivously quite large and while we thought it was a very nice visit one can only spend so long wandering around grave sites. I would suggest before visiting knowing which sections or graves you wish to visit and make a plan. It is also quite easy to get lost as many of the older sections of the cemetery have mausoleums which hide pathways and site lines. For safety sake I always suggest going in groups to these types of cemeteries, in broad daylight and be careful a lot of pickpockets rob people in grave yard due to obscured site lines and few crowds.

We took the “Zentralfriedhof” stop on the Vienna S-Bahn and which stopped at two gates along the cemetery wall. But there are some spaces to park if you chose to drive. Additionally the cemetery offers public transportation within the grounds to help people get to where they wish to go, like I said it is big. Given the time of year we were there the days were quite short and it was extremely cold so we kept our itinerary to a minimum. We wandered around the oldest Jewish section admiring the remaining large tombs, we eventually found our way to the St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery Church and poped in to warm up. It was a really fascinating church designed by Max Hegel and built between 1908 and 1911 in the Art Nouveau style. But is so pristine and light it almost looked new. I of course wandered around way too long taking pictures and trying to open doors I wasn’t allowed to.

After getting sufficiently warmed up and figuring out where the honorary graves are our wander continued. We finally found them parked right in front the huge crowds of tourists. I wanted to go find Falco’s grave for those not in the know he was an Austrian pop start whose song Rock Me Amadeus was pretty popular in the US during the late 1980s but I didn’t have great reception and gave up. We started to wander toward the main gates and noticed a small cafe, so of course we stopped for large cups of coffee and cakes before getting back on the tram and returning to our apartment for the night.

One day I would very much like to return to the cemetery, maybe in the spring or fall when it is slightly warmer and I have more daylight to explore the other places of worship. It may seem like a strange place to visit but like the Viennese say the Central Cemetery of Vienna is “half the size of Zurich, but twice as much fun”. No kidding that is a real joke they say.

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Hundertwasserhaus was not the most peculiar thing we did while in Austria over Christmas, as we were actually on the way to a cemetery where no one we ever knew was buried. But we were in the neighborhood and it because it is a little bit wacky it was of course on my list of must see things in Vienna.

Hundertwasserhaus – History
Hundertwasserhaus today is a 53 apartment unit complex along with a few offices and communal space. It was convinced by Friedrich Stowasser an Austrian born artists who was passionate about environmental protection. Born in 1928 in Austria to a Catholic mother and  Jewish father, he chose to be baptized and joined the Hitler Youth to avoid suspicion as a young man. He joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, who famously rejected Hitler in his youth, at an early age and developed a very unique style which rejected modern conventions in art and architecture  such as the straight line. It was in school that he started signing his name Hundertwasser for reasons I have yet to dig up.

After achieving acclaim as an artist he turned to architecture and eventually designed quite a few buildings in both Austria and Germany. He also designed a public restroom is New Zealand where he spent quite a bit of his later life. An incineration plant in Japan. As well as a winery in Napa Valley California. Which now that I know this I am obviously dying to get down to California just to visit this one building.

Given Hundertwasser’s soft spot for nature, it should come as no suprise that he was a advocate in the 70’s for forested roofs and  large communal space with lots of plant life in an attempt to bring harmony between man and nature. His work brought him mto a man named Bruno Kreisky who was federal chancellor in Vienna during the 70s and through this connection he was given the opportunity to plan a housing project.  Josef Krawina was also assigned the project, whose intial plans allegedly shocked Hundertwasser for all their straight lines and exacting angles. After many different concepts and proofs the Hundertwasserhaus was built between the years of 1983 and 1985.

When complete Hundertwasser allegedly refused payment stating it was worth it to prevent something ugly having been built there instead. The final building being a resplendent building complete with a roof grass, huge trees and various plants throughout the court yards  (some of which grow into rooms) and floors that are anything but flat.

Hundertwasserhaus – Visiting
Visit Hundertwasserhaus is quite easy as it is just a couple blocks from a tram stop that departs from the Schwedenplatz underground stop in Innerstadt. A quick 10 min ride and a street crossing and you will find yourself staring at a building very outside the ordinary compared to all the baroque style apartment complexes of Vienna. After the general look about and picture taking we wandered into gallery and gift shop area across the courtyard from the main apartment building. As the apartments are private this is the only way to kindly experience the interiors of the building without harassing the locals. Please don’t harass the locals.  There are little shops to get souvenirs, coffee, snacks, paintings and even a public toilet. The whole plaza felt like it was built in 3/4 size and meanders around aimlessly almost giving the feeling of being inside an elaborate tree fort.

As we visited in December the courtyard wasn’t exactly showing off, however the area was just as packed as everywhere else in the city. If you are looking to take stellar pictures of the building I would suggest fall. But if you just want to visit an architectural masterpiece like nothing you have ever seen Hundertwasserhaus shouldn’t be missed.


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The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens are quite the experience, much like other palaces the grounds are just a series of plant stations but rather house fountains, mazes, elaborate green houses, cafes, a zoo and endless sculptures. As I mentioned in last weeks post it was quite cold the day we visited so touring was a bit frigid but we were there and were determined to have an experience as we always do.

The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens – History
When Maximilian II bought the property for his game preserve the land was called Katterburg and belonged to the Klosterneuburg Abbey. It was a flood plane area that housed a mill, farm land and vineyard as it had done since the early middle ages. It is said that Maximilian was mainly interested in the property for a game preserve in order to house and breed native game. Rudolph II inherited the land when Maximilian passed away, though he did little to the land other than ensure it didn’t fall to disrepair.  His successors Ferdinand II and Eleonora Von Gonzaga were avid hunters  and frequently hosted elaborate hunting parties on the grounds. And later became Eleonra’s dowager house when Ferdinand died. In 1642 she had a château de plaisance build on the land and official renamed the area Schönbrunn. In 1683 the house and property was taken by the Turkish army during the siege of Vienna. In 1686 the estate was back in the hands of the Hapsburg family who took to creating the first palace on the land, which was of course expanded by Maria Theresa to the structure seen today. 

The majority of the grounds were designed under the direction of Maria Theresa such as the Neptune Fountain, The Gloriette (which is cafe now), a hedge maze which I got lost in many years ago on a different visit, The Columbary which serves as a doves house. There are also several green houses, an orangery, a zoo (which I have yet to have time to visit), a gasthaus and endless manicured gardens completed with statues.

The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens – Visiting
Today the grounds are open to the public for free during daylight hours or for those of us unable to visit in person at the moment can visit online via the official website. Or can be explored via googlemaps thanks to the endless tourists pictures posted. After we completed our interior tour we wandered around the Great Parterre and the Neptune Fountain on the way up to the Gloriette. We were hungry and knew that they were serving breakfast.

Food experiences are almost always my favorite when traveling and this one did not disappoint, the interior of the Gloriette is incredible and the food quite delicious. I spent a good long time trying to decide exactly how much meat, cheese and bread I could consume along with a bottomless pot of coffee while taking in the views. The attempted to read a German language newspaper because I saw some articles about Salzburg. Spoiler alert, I did not glean much as my German is not great.

After breakfast our wander continued down toward the Palm House and Botanical Gardens, the zoo was closed for the holiday but the walk does allow you to see some parts of it. My family is very big on giant green houses, so most of the rest of the morning was spent wandering around the Palm House which is on the location of the former Dutch Botanical gardens was built in 1881 and looks remarkably similar to those at Kew but were not built by the same man. They were however built in a similar style about 40 years apart.

After leaving the Palm House we started our long trek back to the underground station but through the gardens, we wound up spending an inordinate amount of time watching ducks try to land on the frozen ponds in the gardens and skate across them. I honestly think they were doing it for fun, it sure looked like fun. A lot of people were still out and about for their daily jogs and many local families were just there for an afternoon in the sun, even if it was quite cold.

If the grounds are what you are really in for when touring I would highly suggest visiting in spring or fall. While the summer is quite nice when we were there last it is very hot and crowded and obviously in the winter many things are closed. Regardless a visit at The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens is always worth it.


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Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna Austria is incredible. That sounds cheesy but it is true. The Hapsburg family called this palace their summer home for 300 years and its grandeur and gardens flaunt the wealth of the family in my opinion even more than that of the Hofburg (the winter palace and seat of the government) simply because this was the place where the family retreated when it got too hot in the summer. Most of us would be lucky to have a shoddy beach shack to call our summer home.

Schönbrunn Palace – History
The building you see today, or at least the restored version of the building you see today was funded by Maria Theresa mother of Maria Antonia better know as Marie Antoinette. The palace was gifted to her on her wedding day to Francis I a French Duke and son of Leopold, Duke of Lorraine. At the time a mansion funded by Eleonora Gonzaga, widow of Ferdinand the II as her dowager house. Prior to the land being gifted to her the property had served as a game park and hunting area for the Hapsburg family. The land having been originally purchased in 1569 by Holy Roman Emperor Maxamillion the II.

The house served as Franz Josephs birthplace (longest reigning Hapsburg monarch) until his death at 86 years of age in 1916. Shortly after his nephew and heir to the monarchy, Franz Ferdinand, was shot and killed in Sarajavo which sparked the beginnings of WWI. When the monarchy officially fell in 1918 the palace became the property of the Republic of Austria and was turned into a museum.

However during WWII the palace was requisitioned, and was also used by British Intelligence during the Allied Occupation of Austria between 1945 and 1955.  In 1955 it was returned to the Austria Republic and the museum reopened shortly after, while also hosting important political meetings like the one between Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. In 1966 the buildings and gardens were registered with UNESCO. The history of this time period can be viewed in much greater detail at the Museum of Military History which we thoroughly enjoyed.


Schönbrunn Palace – Visiting
I probably sound like a broken record by now, but buy tickets online in advance to ensure you get to visit at a time most convenient for yourself. To control crowding only so many people are let through the palace at a given time. Pay for the most expensive ticket if you enjoy seeing interiors of very fancy houses. And make sure to pick up the free audio guide, it makes the tour very enjoyable. Additionally if you are like us and allergic to crowds get there early.


We left the house before the sun came up and found ourselves at the gates at just about dawn. The gates were opened but the museum hadn’t yet, nor could we buy our tickets yet (we weren’t as smart as you will be when you visit). We tootled around the front gardens for a bit waiting for the ticket office to open, and the rushed the gates to buy the first available time slot, which luckily for us was immediately. By this time the tours were starting to show up, and fewer photo opportunities were available as the entire front grounds were filled with crowds.



Even with the crowd control measures the interior tour was quite packed. We ended up skipping a room just so we could get around two large tour groups that were clogging up the flow. The tour ends at the gift shop of course where you can also buy snacks, drinks and there are restroom available. After we toured the interior we moved on to the grounds as it had finally warmed up enough to wander, in case you were wondering while it doesn’t snow much in Vienna in the winter it is in fact VERY cold. I will cover the grounds in another post, but in summary if you had time I would highly suggest a visit to the Schönbrunn Palace as it is a delightful peak into history.

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Austria’s House of History

Austria’s House of History or Haus der Geschichte Osterreich officially is a museum dedicated to the reconstruction of Austria post WWII. We had every intention of visiting all the museums in Vienna, but didn’t quite realize the volume that is available just in the Hofburg itself. And to be honest picking one, getting to it and finding tickets for it can be a bit confusing. Once we recovered from walking all over Budapest we knew we wanted to discover more history local to Vienna so we picked the Haus der Geschichte Osterreich in the Neu Berg wing of the Hofburg complex. The main halls were the traditional baroque hallways filled with statues, an oddly out of place series of Greek artifacts and some information on the balcony of the Hofburg which is where Adolf Hitler stood to give his 1938 Anschluss speech.


Austria’s House of History – Getting There
Austria’s House of History is, as I mentioned above, in the Neu Burg wing of the Hofburg palace. It is hard to miss as it is the one place that almost looks like the actual “front door” of the palace. Ticket can be bought at the kiosk out front, which quite frankly looked like a temporary shelter for a construction site causing even more confusion for us. Once inside there are several halls filled with a variety of revolving topics. As well as roped off corridors that you will be tempted to jump over as they tantalizingly display elaborate medieval armor which is not for this museum but for the  Court Hunting and Armory Museum (Hofjagd-und Rustkammer) which we never did find the entrance for.

Austria’s House of History – What to Expect
Hopefully you are much better at navigating through large imperial buildings that we are, but once in you will find several rooms dedicated to the history of the reconstruction of Austria post WWII. Our history books like the pretend that once the Germans were defeated everything went back to normal. But for nearly all of these  countries which had up until the world wars had operated under a moarchy had a lot of conflicts to still go through before they resembled the countries we know today. Not least of which due to the presence of the USSR sharing the border with some of these more eastern countries like Austria. Through a series of rooms and creative interactive displays the museum presents the countries contemporary history starting with the founding of the republic in 1918 through modern day social changes and political alliances. If you are interested in indepth history this is the museam of you. We spent the entire day here and I still feel like I didn’t get a chance to absorb it all.



I don’t think I would be able to chose between this and the Museum of Military History. Between the two you are given nearly the full swath of Austrian history, missing only periods prior to the Turkish wars when the majority of Europe was in the throws of the dark ages and recorded history is difficult to come by. I am so glad I got to experience this place and look forward to exploring more of the areas of the Hofburg one day when I visit Vienna again. And maybe even another visit to Austria’s House of History.



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The Benefits of Traveling with a Second Language

The Frankfurt Motor Show shouldn’t disappoint car fans, with new models for 2015, 2016 and beyond, as well as forward-thinking concepts for the automobile of tomorrow. Getting a lot of attention at the Frankfurt auto show was the Porsche Mission E, a futuristic, sleek, fully electric sports car from the German luxury car maker. Unlike anything on the road at the moment, it has no rear view mirrors, but instead relies on cameras to cover the blind spots. Capable of travelling 500 km on a single charge, it can replenish its batteries within minutes.

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7 Reasons Why A Cat Is The Perfect Best Friend

The Frankfurt Motor Show shouldn’t disappoint car fans, with new models for 2015, 2016 and beyond, as well as forward-thinking concepts for the automobile of tomorrow. Getting a lot of attention at the Frankfurt auto show was the Porsche Mission E, a futuristic, sleek, fully electric sports car from the German luxury car maker. Unlike anything on the road at the moment, it has no rear view mirrors, but instead relies on cameras to cover the blind spots. Capable of travelling 500 km on a single charge, it can replenish its batteries within minutes.

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My Trip to New York

The Frankfurt Motor Show shouldn’t disappoint car fans, with new models for 2015, 2016 and beyond, as well as forward-thinking concepts for the automobile of tomorrow. Getting a lot of attention at the Frankfurt auto show was the Porsche Mission E, a futuristic, sleek, fully electric sports car from the German luxury car maker. Unlike anything on the road at the moment, it has no rear view mirrors, but instead relies on cameras to cover the blind spots. Capable of travelling 500 km on a single charge, it can replenish its batteries within minutes.

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