|Opus One in Oakville, California |
I was fortunate to go on a private tour of Opus One in
Oakville, California just outside of Napa. This winery is the marriage of Baron
Phillipe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi who together created this spectacular
joint venture in the early 1980’s. You can read the details of their
arrangement at www.opusonewinery.com
|Spectacular art sets the scene|
|Champagne in the sun room |
As we entered a special room for private tours, we were
greeted with champagne and caviar in a sitting area that had an original Joan Miro and
a magnificent Bodhisattva from the late eighteenth century. The room was
adorned with furnishings from late seventeenth century France and sunlight
from the late California afternoon. I think I could have been happy just to sit
in that space quietly all day long.
|Rooted to the land|
As we toured
the production area where destemming and crushing occur, some of the vines are
on display to show how they train the roots to grow very vertically to get a
more even flow of water and nutrients to each and every grape. It is an odd
site to see these roots among an extraordinarily sanitized environment but they
illustrate a key element of the brand.
|Opus One Logo |
accurate depicts the conflation of these two global wine leaders, one looking
East and the other West. Together their images are blended, like a Bordeaux blend, where the old world and the
What struck me most about the tour, the tasting and the
experience was how much attention was paid to the most minute detail. For
example, each and every barrel is restained with a red dye on the outer middle
of each barrel three times per year. Not once, not twice but three times each
year. It would be like repainting the Golden Gate Bridge- when you get to the
end, you turn around and start again never quite finishing.
|Roll out the barrels. Each barrel is restained with a red dye three times each year.|
As we came
upon the table for the tasting, there were two bottles opened for us to sample.
Both had been decanted for over two hours- the 2005 and the 2009. We swirled
and sniffed and finally tasted this wonderful Bordeaux style wine made in the
heart of Napa. Although my five colleagues all preferred the 2005, I was alone
in slightly preferring the 2009. Wine is for tasting and to me, the younger
wine was a bit more suited to my palate for this style. Having just read Eric Assimov's wonderful new book How To Love Wine, I felt even more confident in my opinion. Wine is for enjoying- not tasting.
There was a softness in the 2009 - almost a creaminess that was missing in the older sibling from 2005. I did manage to finish both glasses as I inhaled the magnificent perfume from each wine.
|Wine is served. Tasting the 2005 and 2009l|
Adrian shared another interested fact that they often get requests from people
not for cases but container loads of wine. However, they resist and will only
sell six bottles at a time to any single person. They want to control where the
wine is sold and not have someone trying to resell it and damage their reputation. This is why a luxury brand can demand such incredible prices. The winery doesn't chase ever last dollar and where it is sold is critical to maintaining the image and status they so carefully nurture in every step.
|The glass is always half full |
At $250 to $300 per bottle, the wine was elegant and spectacular. Only on a few
occasions have I tasted anything at this level of perfection. But I wasn’t
surprised having witness how much attention they paid to each little detail
along the way.
From a marketer’s
perspective, each story they told about each detail only shaped and formed a
brand where no little refinement was ever too much. The Opus One brand was
built on attention to detail and its reputation has stood the test over the
last 30 years.
|Decanter and the Opus One |
Telling a detail story
Do you use
stories to illustrate to your customers or clients how you pay attention to
details that most people wouldn’t notice? Steve Jobs’ father taught him to
appreciate the back side of a piece of furniture that only he would ever see. Imagine pouring that much detail into something just because... An exquisitely small detail can help enlarge and provide depth to any brand.
Labels: Food and Wine Moments, Jobs, Marketing Moments, Mondavi, Napa, Opus Wine, Rothschild