Opus One: Masterful Wine, Masterful Estate

The combination of luxurious spots, fancy food, and fantastic tipple is what makes California the largest and arguably the most important wine region in the United States. Tourists from all over the globe troop to the state to experience the Californian wife lifestyle, which includes wine tours and of course, critically acclaimed wines.

This culture, however, is a double-edged sword for winemakers. While California welcomes all varieties of wines, making a name in its industry is a difficult journey that only the most unique and memorable ones get to achieve. This is why Opus One is a name that is not easily forgotten.


Separating Itself from Its Peers with Distinct Quality

Opus One made it through to the global wine landscape, becoming one of Napa Valley’s topnotch exports. The name Opus One is not only known among American consumers, it is also sought after by foreign wine lovers. In fact, almost 50% of its wines are sold outside the country, with Japan being the number one importer.

Opus One had all the right things at the right time. It presented a fine blend of design and wine quality, which paved the way for their success and global domination. The founding of the wine estate even made Californian viticulture flourish, influencing Napa Valley vintners to follow its footsteps. Let’s open the first page of its history.

The Brainchild of Two Wine Greats

When the passion and brilliance of wine experts in a lush side of California collided, Opus One was to be its fitting brainchild. Baron Phillippe de Rothschild of the Rothschild wine family of Europe and New World wine pioneer Robert Mondavi crossed paths and decided to establish the wine estate in 1979. The extensive knowledge of both parties in viticulture foretold what would later be a powerhouse in the wine industry.

Baron Phillipe was instrumental in the development of artistic winemaking. When he took over Chateau Mouton Rothschild at the age of 20, he began pushing the boundaries, aiming to make a proverbial dent in the established norms of winemaking. Not satisfied with simply serving wine, he invented Chateau bottling and worked with great artists to bring novelty to his labels.

Robert Mondavi made a name for himself as well. For more than 60 years, he led the rebirth of Californian winemaking with his introduction of temperature-controlled fermentation and other innovations, such as French oak wine barrel aging and high-density viticulture. These came at a perfect time, as the wine industry was floundering during those years.

Rothschild and Mondavi shared the same passion for excellent viticulture, food, music, and the arts, which paved the way for a label in which design and wine meet. Their initial creation was sold for $24,000 at an auction – the highest recorded in the California wine industry at that time – the partners recognized that big things were up ahead. They wanted a name that can be easily recognized in both English and French, and so Rothschild chose the name “Opus,” a Latin term that refers to the first masterwork of a musical composer. He then added the word “One” later on.

Combining the Modern and the Traditional

Opus One’s 68.4-hectare winery is divided into four hedged vineyards, where vines are grown using both traditional and modern practices. As an avid believer of traditional winemaking, one of the estate’s winemakers, Michael Silacci, infuses his practices into the process. He, however, recognizes the benefits of the modern approach, thus applying some of its precepts whenever necessary.

The combination of modern and traditional isn’t limited to the wine. In fact, it extends to the general theme of the wine region. The fixtures surrounding the estate have a touch of old and modern aesthetics, creating quite a number of snapshot-worthy moments for guests and tourists.

St. Helena Hwy in Oakville is a perfect blend of classical European and contemporary Californian architectures. Colonnades define the building’s overall motif while modern Californian redwood and stainless steel bring out a nice contrast of New World and Old World designs.

People taking a tour of Opus One can enjoy not only some of the finest wines in California, but also the breathtaking views of the winery. The building has a splendid courtyard, a salon with 18th-centruy Italian opera furniture, and an inviting, accommodating Rotunda. Not to mention the contemporary stairwell leading to the upper level of the winery and the semi-circular wine cellar that houses a prized Opus One vintage like a treasure chest in a scenic dungeon.

The Praised “One”

Opus One only produces a single type of wine, allowing for a more focused and refined process of winemaking. This highly contributes to the top-of-the-class quality of its vintages, since the rather concentrated effort led to their near perfection. As a result, Opus One wines have been praised by casual wine lovers and famous wine critics alike.

Renowned critic Antonio Galloni called Opus One’s 2010 Bordeaux blend as “picture perfect,” considering that it was the winery’s most challenging vintage. Upon taking in a mouthful, Galloni said that the wine “has finally reached a level of consistency that is worthy of Opus One’s image and price.”

Another wine critic, Ed McCarthy, also praised Opus One’s vintage, calling it “American royalty. He described the wine as “well-balanced, not over-ripe or too high in alcohol.” He likened it to the Chateau Mouton Rothschild and considered it as the Californian interpretation of the famous Bordeaux.

A trip to the Opus One winery is certainly a treat for all the senses. Its vintages add to the elegance of any dinner spread while its surroundings are picturesque enough to entice any traveler. For those who can’t make it to sunny California, however, you can catch genuine Opus One vintages in Singapore. One of its fabled wine cellars, Singapore Wine Vault, houses a splendid collection.