AWG Correspondent

Elizabeth Smith

Opus One Winery Photos

Opus One Winery Review

Regions: Napa Valley AVA, Oakville AVA, California

Reviewed: October 24, 2015 by Elizabeth Smith
Published: December 2, 2015

When my friend asked me if I would like to visit Opus One, I was a little hesitant. I was afraid it might be too fancy for me, as it has quite a formidable reputation, in Napa Valley and around the world. However, I thought twice about it and decided to say yes; it was the right decision.

Opus One is the result of a partnership between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi that dates back to 1979. In 1981, a case of Opus One sold at the inaugural Napa Valley Wine Auction for $24,000, a record-breaking price for a California wine. The first vintages, 1979 and 1980, were released together in 1984 as the winery’s inaugural release. The 1985 vintage of Opus One was the first California wine exported internationally to France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. After the death of Baron Philippe, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild left her career in French theatre to lead Opus One with her artistic influence, direction, and vision. Winemakers of this historic venture have included Lucien Sionneau, Patrick Léon, Timothy Mondavi, and Michael Silacci. Today the winery is owned and operated by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, S.A. and Constellation Brands, Inc.

The long drive and approach to Opus One were indeed glorious, and I felt like I was entering another time and place. The building is reminiscent of a museum, complete with a spiral staircase and a glass pyramid that reminded me of The Louvre in Paris. Upon entering, we checked in with a host and were directed to the Partners’ Room for one glass each, at $45 per person, of the current release, the 2012 Opus One. We also had the opportunity to enjoy a glass of the 2010 vintage. I was pleasantly surprised that we were allowed to take our wine up to the terrace on the top of the building to enjoy the beautiful vineyard views. The experience was relaxed, yet cultured. Guests moved gracefully along the terrace, gazing across the property, or they sat at tables having quiet conversations. The ambiance was inviting and serene. The staff members with whom we interacted were welcoming and friendly.

Opus One, whose name signifies a single masterpiece, is a proprietary, Bordeaux-style red blend that is predominately comprised of cabernet sauvignon. The price per bottle for the 2012 vintage is $255 at the winery, with a six-bottle limit per customer. While both vintages were lovely, the 2012 (79% cabernet Sauvignon 7% cabernet franc, 6% petit verdot, 6% merlot, and 2% malbec) was youthful, sporting bold fruit, rich earthiness, great acidity, and refined tannins. The 2010 (84% cabernet sauvignon, 5.5% merlot, 5.5% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot, and 1% malbec) was quite stunning: elegantly floral and powerfully dark, with luscious black fruit, silky tannins, and intense minerality.

As my friend and I prepared to depart to visit another winery, we both admitted we didn’t want to leave. The impressive Opus One Winery was not at all daunting, but rather, it was like its wine: approachable, delightful, and unforgettable.

Address & Contact Information: 7900 St. Helena Highway Napa, California 94558. Telephone: 800-292-6787, email:, website: Tasting Hours: By appt. 10:00-4:00 except major holidays.

Overall Rating:  

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance

More information about Opus One Winery

Explore California wineries

Explore Napa Valley AVA wineries

Explore Oakville AVA wineries