Visit to Opus One: Opulence in Oakville
Now that we have been back in Napa for some time, we made a list of must-see wineries and Opus One was the first on our list to visit. Anyone who has visited the Valley and driven North on Hwy 29 through Oakville has seen gobs of visitors taking pictures of the property from the long driveway leading up to the entrance. The joint venture between the late Baron Philippe Rothschild and Robert Mondavi is a fusion of their winemaking styles and architectural vision. And, as many locals, somehow came out looking a lot like a giant sprinkler head.
Walking up to the visitor's center, the clean lines and meticulous attention to detail are present in every part of the property and foreshadow what's inside. We were greeted by the concierge, and along with two other couples, our all-industry group was led into one of the guest rooms to start our tour. Original paintings adorned the wall, including one by Miro, and the opulence of Opus One quickly became apparent.
We were poured a taste of their sister label, Overture, and with glass in hand, toured the building and vineyards.
Their shorter-than-normal vines and specific spacing between vine rows were planted specifically to be harvested by a special machine and offer up a specific yield come harvest time. Despite the limited amount of wine they produce, we were shocked by the fact that nearly two-thirds of their overall production is sent to the Asian market for consumption!
Moving into the inner workings of the winery we got to see the state-of-the-art technology they use, most notably a specific optical sorting machine which is 1 of only 5 ever made of that model! Moving along to the large stainless steel tanks where the grapes are fermented, I was struck by how pristine everything was...from the sparkling floors to the polished tanks, Opus One is focused on keeping everything that touches the grapes as clean as possible.
Next, we made our way down a winding set of stairs where, behold, we were greeted with a glass of the current 2009 vintage...Finally! With their private barrel room as a backdrop, various sized bottles of past vintages, and historical pictures of the property scattered throughout the room, it was the perfect setting to enjoy the taste we'd come for.
The wine was like the a Boyz II Men reunion slow-jam; sexy, subtle, smooth, but missing a little of the oomph we'd come to expect. The rich berry and warm oak made us feel like closing our eyes, swaying side-to-side, and as the last drop slid out of the glass into our mouths, you almost want to sing "It's So Haaaarrrd to Say Goodbye."
Overall, the wines weren't over-rated, the staff very friendly, and completely worth the 2.5-3 hours we spent there. Our advice: go and enjoy this Napa landmark, preferably on a weekday, and you won't be disappointed!