Following the sale of Mondavi to Constellation Brands in 2004, the Rothschilds took full control of the vineyards and winery, leading to a noticeable improvement in wine quality.
The vineyards are based in Napa, in the Oakville AVA and consist of 170 acres, 100 acres of which are two separate parcels of the prestigious To Kalon vineyard. The original 35-acre parcel of To Kalon sold by Robert Mondavi to Opus One in 1981 remains the backbone of the blend.
Originally planted in 1868, To Kalon has historically been recognised as one of the very top vineyards in California, having been awarded more 100-point scores from the critics than any other site in the world.
The other 70 acres of Opus One’s vineyards are from two other vineyard plots (Ballestra and River) which surround the winery. The vines are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller proportions of the four other Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec).
Winemaking is handled by Michael Silacci who has been at the helm since 2001. The style remains heavily influenced by Bordeaux, preferring to pick grapes with plenty of vibrancy and freshness and avoiding the riper style more typical of Napa.
Despite this, there is plenty of ripeness to the tannins and fruit thanks to the reliability of the Napa sunshine. It is a Bordeaux blend, tweaked according to vintage conditions, but Cabernet Sauvignon always represents over 70% of the blend, with smaller percentages of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
The wine is typically aged in 100% new French barrels for 18 months, followed by a further 15 months in bottle.