I’m mildly obsessed with Robert Mondavi and his family’s story in the Napa Valley. The Mondavi family really helped shape what the Napa Valley wine industry is today by introducing higher quality wine making equipment and techniques to the area. They also put the Napa Valley on the wine map for the rest of the wine world through strategic marketing programs. (If you haven’t read House of Mondavi and Robert Mondavi’s autobiography I highly suggest it. Both books do an excellent job in laying out how the Mondavi family helped shape what Napa Valley is today.)
With that said, the vineyards I really wanted to visit this trip were all tied to the Mondavi family. However, given that the first day we were tasting with some of The Husbands colleagues I couldn’t force my obsession on them, at least not all day.
First stop – Opus One
Robert Mondavi started this vineyard with Baron Philippe de Rothschild of France (who at the time was owner of Château Mouton Rothschild winery). The two wanted to combine wine making traditions from their families.
Their first vintage was released in 1979.
Opus One truly sells “ultra premium” wines (and they act like it). Unlike many wineries in the Napa Valley, Opus One only focuses on a single wine each year. Although, they also produce Overture, which as our guide told us is made up of the grapes that “didn’t make the cut” for Opus One.
Opus One is located directly across the street from the Robert Mondavi Winery, it’s “sister winery”. You must make a reservation at Opus One, even for a tasting, which is all we did. You will not be able to do a tasting without a reservation.
In the tasting you get two wines; we tried vintage 2006 and vintage 2007. Tasting fees – $35 per vintage- are higher than most and this is mainly due to them only producing one vintage a year. While the fees are higher, you are poured more than the traditional one-ounce tasting pour. Both the 2006 and 2007 vintages were made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Vendot and a touch of Malbec grapes. I preferred the 2007 vintage, which was a great year for wines throughout the Napa Valley. We were not able to taste the Overture (no one can, for sale only) but did purchase a few bottles and it’s amazing. You can only purchase Overture at the winery; you cannot but it online.
When Robert Mondavi sold his winery in Dec. 2004 to Constellation Brands, Inc., he also sold his shares of Opus One. The winery is still run by Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s family; Constellation Brands acts more of a silent partner. Something to note, the people who work at Opus One all seem to be French and very proud of their wine and pass this “pride” off as snootiness. Ok, just plane rudeness. It was hard to really appreciate the beauty of the wine with the woman working the tasting being so “nice”. So we took glasses of wine upstairs to the deck to enjoy the views and try to regain appreciation for the wine without our “lovely” French guide.
Opus One is open every day between 10 am and 4 pm with the exception of New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day