Opus One was the brainchild of two legendary wine greats, the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owner of the great first-growth Bordeaux, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Napa Valley's most famous vintner, Robert Mondavi.
These two creative men agreed to pool their resources and make a joint-venture wine in 1978. The first Opus One vineyard utilized a block of the To-Kalon Vineyard, which had been owned by Robert Mondavi. Mondavi's son, Timothy Mondavi, and Mouton Rothschild's winemaker became joint winemakers of Opus One; both winemakers had their own team of assistants. In 1983, the main vineyard was purchased by Opus One, almost opposite the Robert Mondavi Winery on Highway 29 in Oakville. The next year a magnificent state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery was built; 1984 also marked the debut of Opus One's first two vintages, the 1979 and 1980.
Neither 1979 nor 1980, especially 1980, was a particularly good vintage, and so the debut of Opus One was not greeted with great acclaim by the critics. In fact, California was to suffer a very unusual drought of good vintages between 1979 and 1984, not really experiencing a really fine year until 1985.
Beginning with the 1985 vintage, Opus One became established as one of the state's great wines; other outstanding vintages in the next decade included the 1991, 1994 and 1995.
In late 2004, Constellation Brands acquired the Robert Mondavi Winery, and in 2005 agreed to terms with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild Company to maintain a 50-50 joint ownership of Opus One. David Pearson became Opus One's CEO, the first person singly responsible for the winery, and Michael Silacci was appointed winemaker, with full responsibility for viticulture as well as winemaking. Now that Opus One has its own team, a new spirit, a new pride seems to be imbued in all of the people working at Opus One.