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

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 
Two headed logo
The 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 new connect. 

A Barrel of Fun
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

 Our guide, 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.

Counter intuitive, but true. 

Labels: , , , , , ,