The vintner and hotelier—and, oh yes, film director—tells T+L about his time on the set in Buenos Aires.

Credit: Javier Pierini

“I spent a year and a half in Buenos Aires making my new film Tetro, a family drama. Most of our cast and crew was Argentine, and I had the chance to collaborate with talented artists. There’s a big intellectual tradition in Argentina, of course: the poetry and novels of Borges and Cortázar. At any given time there may be 400 theater events going on, many in private homes and cafés. I found that people in the city really like to have a good time. You’ll see two-year-olds in restaurants at midnight.

The character of Buenos Aires is a unique blend of cultures. The food combines two cuisines: Italian, and a fire-grilled style of meat barbecue called parrilla. And to my mind, Argentinean wines are the great secret of the world. The region is famous for Malbecs, but there’s also a fantastic white varietal called Torrontes. You can’t go wrong with any Argentinean wine. If you taste it, you’ll enjoy it.

When I’m in a place for so long, I like to make myself comfortable, and that’s hard to do in a rented house—so I bought a villa in the heart of a popular neighborhood called Palermo Soho. The whole time I was making the film, I was also turning the house into something wonderful, a sanctuary. By the time I finished, I had not only made a film but had also set down roots in a vibrant, lively neighborhood. I’ve done this before—in Belize and Guatemala. In a funny way, you might say these places are records of my life.”

Coppola’s Tetro will be in theaters on June 11. His house in Buenos Aires is now a two-suite hotel, the Jardin Escondido (From $550).

“I shot Tetro in a neighborhood called La Boca. At the restaurant Don Carlos (dinner for two $43), there’s no menu—you just sit down and they bring you food, like ensalada de pulpo. If you see something going by that you like, you just ask for half of it.”

“On weekends, people gravitate to an area called El Tigre, on the delta where the Paraná converges with other rivers. There is boating, and many restaurants, such as Parador Aku Aku (brunch for two $43), serve pastas during brunch. On Sundays, there are also ferias, or fairs, that sell everything from leather sandals to antique clocks.”

“The central neighborhood of San Telmo is filled with cafés, including La Brigada (dinner for two $43). The owner is an expert on Argentinean wine, and he always brings out some spectacular varietal I’ve never heard of. The rarest was a Weinert Malbec Estrella from 1977.”