Opus One (Winemaking, Best Wines, Prices 2021)

Brent Akamine

Do you know what makes Opus One wine so desirable?

Opus One was created as a joint venture between two wine world legends - Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. This delicious Bordeaux style masterpiece showcases the best of both Old World and New World red wine.

What’s special about Opus One, and what’s the best way to buy some of it’s best bottles?

Let’s explore the history and winemaking of Opus One and which of these wines you should buy in 2021. Also find out the easiest way to invest in this wine.

Further reading

Find out all about investing in wine with this Ultimate Guide to Wine Investing.
Also level up your cocktail game with these Mimosa and Sangria recipes!

This article contains:

(Click on the below links to look at a specific section)

  1. 1979 Opus One, Napa Valley
  2. 1980 Opus One, Napa Valley
  3. 1984 Opus One, Napa Valley
  4. 1981 Opus One, Napa Valley
  5. 2002 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley
  6. 2013 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley
  7. 2009 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley
  8. 2016 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

A Quick Intro to Opus One

Intro to Opus One

The Opus One winery is situated in Oakville, California. Despite being relatively young (founded only four decades ago), it has managed to seal its position among the best from California with its iconic Bordeaux-style wines.  

Opus One wines combine the traditional winemaking techniques of the great Bordeaux estates and Robert Mondavi’s innovative practices.

The Opus One blend was also the first California premium wine to sell globally. The wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and small percentages of the varietals Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Fun fact: Opus One is a musical term derived from the Latin “oper” and is associated with a composer’s first masterpiece.

Like many great Bordeaux estates, the winery also has a second wine called Overture (derived from the orchestral note at the start of a musical composition) that was first released in 1993. The wine is made from the grapes that don’t make the cut for the Grand Vin.

Overture is made from the varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

Now let’s look at the interesting history of this exceptional wine.

The History of Opus One

Opus One

In 1979, the two friends, Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Robert Mondavi of Robert Mondavi Winery, created Opus One (called ‘Napamédoc’ until 1982.)

The newly-found winery garnered a lot of attention in the wine industry. So did its first 1979 vintage.

In 1980, Opus One bought its first parcels of vines from Mondavi’s block in the To Kalon Vineyard. It’s from this 35-acre parcel that Opus One produced its 1985 vintage. The wines were initially made at Mondavi’s estate vineyard until 1989. That’s when they began building their iconic modern winery in Oakville.

When Philippe Rothschild died in 1988, his daughter, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, took over her father’s label Château Mouton Rothschild as well as Opus One.

In 2004, Robert Mondavi sold his share of Opus One to Constellation Brands. Mondavi passed away four years later.

In the early 2000s, winemaker Michael Silacci joined Opus One, and to this day, he is responsible for winemaking at this famous Napa winery.

Viticulture and Winemaking at Opus One

Viticulture and Winemaking at Opus One

The Opus One winery owns four vineyards parcels (a total of 170 acres):

  • To Kalon Vineyard: Two parcels — Q block and K block (both from Mondavi’s vineyard)
  • River Parcel: This is a ranch in Oakville.
  • Ballestra Vineyard: This block sits next to the River Parcel vineyard.

Here’s what the winemaking process of the Bordeaux blend looks like:

  • Harvesting: The team at Opus One starts tasting the grapes in the vineyard early to decide on the ideal picking time. After this, the grapes are harvested by hand in individual bunches. At the winery, only the healthiest berries are selected with the help of an optical sorting machine.

  • Fermentation: The grapes are transferred into stainless steel tanks in separate lots, and fermentation begins. The vats are elevated to allow the juice to move with the help of gravity.  

  • Aging: Opus One wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months. Blending takes place during this time. The wine is then bottled and left for 18 more months before being released into the market.

Winemaker Michael Silacci tastes the Cabernet wine to ensure the final blend meets expectations.

Let’s dive into the best wines that should be on your radar!

Best Opus One Wines to Buy in 2021

Consider these Opus One vintages to buy this year:

1. 1979 Opus One, Napa Valley

1979 Opus One, Napa Valley

This vintage is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Merlot. It has aromas of menthol, pine, and tobacco notes. This red wine also has baked black cherries, warm cassis fruit, and earthy forest floor hints. On the palate, it’s sweet with silky tannin.

Price of 1979 Opus One, Napa Valley: $1,410

2. 1980 Opus One, Napa Valley

1980 Opus One, Napa Valley

This exceptional wine has layers of tobacco, black cherry fruit, black cassis, spice, and plum notes. This Cabernet also has tasting notes of cloves, wild sage, cinnamon, hard candy, and tar.

Price of 1980 Opus One, Napa Valley: $964

3. 1984 Opus One, Napa Valley

1984 Opus One, Napa Valley

Here we have a garnet-hued, seductive wine with a delicious flavor of dark fruit and baked black cherries, followed by wild sage, spice, and floral aromas. Smooth on the tongue with a satin texture, expect notes of red fruit, cedar, and cassis on the palate. It’s best enjoyed with beef fillet and port wine sauce.

Price of 1984 Opus One, Napa Valley: $744

4. 1981 Opus One, Napa Valley

1981 Opus One, Napa Valley

This Cabernet Sauvignon wine is a great expression of the To Kalon Vineyard terroir with its sumptuous aromas of dried violets, graphite, rich dark fruit, and cigar tasting notes. On the palate, you can taste its satin texture, as well as plum, black cherry, currants, cassis, and cedar flavor.

Price of 1981 Opus One, Napa Valley: $563

5. 2002 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

2002 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

This deep ruby-hued second wine has aromas of rich dark fruit, baked black cherry, black raspberry, and licorice notes. You can taste ripe blackberries and cassis laced fruit along with a harmonious aromatic balance, acidity, and good structure on the palate.

Price of 2002 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley: $223

6. 2013 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

2013 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

This Cabernet Sauvignon has good length and freshness with notes of plush fruit, warm cassis, pine, and earthy forest floor aromas. This wine also has notes of baking spices, licorice, black raspberry, and currants to round off it’s sumptuous aromas.

Price of 2013 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley: $170

7. 2009 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

2009 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

This ruby-colored Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine has a pale rim color with a licorice flavor, sweet fruit notes like blackcurrants, spice cake, and cocoa powder hints. It also has a delicious juicy raspberry flavor and is overall a light, vibrant wine with a harmonious aromatic balance.

Price of 2009 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley: $167

8. 2016 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

2016 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley

Red-purple in hue, this seductive wine has aromas of plush fruit like blackcurrants, blueberries, juicy raspberry, and plums. These notes are accompanied by vanilla flavor, cocoa powder, spice cake, baking spices, black cassis, and pencil lead tones. This vintage has fine tannins and a smooth finish.

Price of 2016 Opus One Overture, Napa Valley: $163

Why Opus One Is a Good Investment Wine

Opus One Is a Good Investment Wine

Opus One produces 25,000 cases of fine wine each year. Each release of the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine enjoys a fantastic reception all over the world, particularly in France and Japan.

The grand vin also has incredible longevity and can age for about 20 to 30 years.

This high-end California wine has seen varying spikes in prices:

  • In 2007, the average bottle cost was $138, but by the middle of 2018, it had increased by 185% to $394.

  • Opus One saw a price increase from $396 in 2019 to $413 in 2021, showing a 4% increase.

Opus One wines are highly-collectible. In 2013, a buyer from China bought a 100-case collection of 1997 to 2005 vintages for $165,000.

These Bordeaux-style wines do well at auctions, too.

  • At Zachys, a set of five 6L bottles from 1979, 1987, 1991, 2001, and 2010 vintages sold for $40,000 (along with a special tasting with winemaker Michael Silacci.)

  • If you look back to the release of Opus One’s first vintage, you will find that a single case sold for $24,000 at the 1981 Napa Valley Wine Auction (an impressive price for its time, especially for a New World wine.)

Opus One is an excellent investment wine, but the winery caps off each buyer’s quota to only six single bottles or four six-bottle cases, so you can get just a limited number of these iconic Cabernet Sauvignon bottles.

So how do you purchase your own bottle of Opus One wine?

Invest in Opus One and Other Fine Wines Through Vinovest


Vinovest is an online wine investment company that allows you to buy wines, likeOpus One, Pomerol and other sought-after wines, with just a few clicks.

How does it work?

All it takes is five easy steps to begin your wine investment journey:

  1. Sign up on the Vinovest platform with your name, email, and password.
  2. Fill out a form about your risk appetite and investment preferences.
  3. Finance your account with a minimum of $1,000.
  4. Allow Vinovest to build your collection of wines.
  5. Watch your investment portfolio grow as you make yourself a Kir Royale drink or another delicious Champagne cocktail.

What are the benefits?

Vinovest has some amazing benefits. Here are some of them:

1. The Best Prices

Vinovest sources wines only from the best winemakers or wine merchants in the business and at below-retail prices.

2. Easy Buying and Selling

Thanks to Vinovest’s AI-platform, you can buy and sell your fine wines with just a few clicks. So those bottles of Pouilly Fuissé and Chateau Lafite Rothschild you’ve been wanting are within reach!

3. Low fees

You only need to add funds to your account and pay a 2.85% yearly fee (2.5% for a portfolio exceeding $50,000). This amount includes buying and selling wines, storage, insurance, wine fraud detection, and portfolio management.

4. Authenticity and Provenance

Vinovest traces your wine’s provenance to ensure it’s authentic and has been stored impeccably well.

5. Curated Portfolio

Vinovest curates a portfolio of wines just for you. This is created by their professional sommeliers and data scientists who use intelligent investment models, so you don’t have to stress about putting together your fine wine collection from different parts of the world.

6. Excellent Storage

Vinovest keeps all your wines in bonded warehouses under optimal conditions (of light, humidity, temperature, and vibration.) So you don’t have to worry about storing your favorite wines.

7. Easy Delivery

Maybe you’d like to sell your bottle of fine wine, keep it for yourself, or give it as a wine gift to a special person. Vinovest will have it delivered anywhere you want.

8. Ownership

And the best part? You own every bottle of California wine or any other type of wine you buy through Vinovest!

Opus One: A Cult Classic!

Opus One: A Cult Classic!

Intense and concentrated, this premium California wine is in a caliber of its own. With its illustrious past and precise winemaking practices, bottles from the Opus One winery remain an all-time favorite.

And the easiest way to invest in them is through Vinovest intelligent online platform.

So don’t hold back. Sign up and add a bottle of Opus One to your portfolio right away.

Further reading

Step into the world of fabulous Red Wines in This Incredibly Useful Red Wine Guide!

Written by

Brent Akamine

Brent is a serial entrepreneur bringing nearly 20 years of experience from senior roles TrueCar, ByteDance and more. He led the US re-launch/re-design of the TikTok App and was also design director at Blockfolio.