Opus One Winery, in Oakville, California, is the brainchild of wine giants Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Plans for the joint venture, several years in the making, were first announced in 1980. Shortly after, Mondavi sold a 35 acre portion of his To-Kalon Vineyard to Opus One and the rest, as they say, was history. Vintages 1979 and 1980 were released simultaneously in 1984, ushering in a new category of ultra premium wine priced at $50 per bottle and up.
Today, Opus One has achieved full on cult status. It is exported to markets far and wide, even France. The most impressive part of the Opus One estate may be the winery itself. Mondavi and Rothschild specially commissioned architect Scott Johnson of Johnson, Fain and Pereira to design the structure. Completed in 1991, the style combines Old and New World elements, perhaps a nod to the partnership of Mondavi and Rothschild. Aside from the original 35 acres from Mondavi's To-Kalon Vineyard, Opus One harvests from three additional vineyards in Oakville: The River Parcel Vineyard and the adjacent Ballestra Vineyard, located east of Highway 29 in Oakville, and another portion of Mondavi's To-Kalon Vineyard, acquired in 2008. Vines in all four locations are planted according to Old World techniques, that is five to six times closer than at other sites in California. This leads to small, highly concentrated berries which produce wines with very pronounced flavors and aromas.
In 2004, David Pearson was appointed CEO of Opus One by the winery's board of directors. The first person to hold sole responsibility for Opus One, Pearson named Michael Silacci as winemaker in the same year.