When you see the Opus One Vineyard from afar, you immediately think "wow." It's grandiose, beautiful, and imposing all at the same time. It clearly was designed and built to impress, and impressed I was.
The views are top notch from the vineyard - almost unrealistically picturesque.
You can do a "tasting" which means you can buy individual glasses of wine for (gasp) $30 or $35 each!!! I guess since their bottles go for $195 and up, I can sort of understand why the tasting has to be so expensive. We shared one glass of the 2004 Opus One.
We slowly sipped and savored it at the gorgeous second floor balcony.
Lovely vineyard, definitely worth visiting, even if it's just for the views, which don't cost a cent!
Robert Mondavi Vineyards
Do you recognize this arch? It's on the front of all Robert Mondavi bottles. We signed up for the Signature Tour for only $25, which I think is well worth the money. The tour guides are really good, and it's a fun peek into the winemaking process. The best time to come is August, when the grapes are about to be harvested! (right now the vines are empty - sad!)
These are the To Kalon vineyards, which, according to some, produce some of the best cabernet grapes in all of Napa Valley, if not the entire world. The soil here is mostly clay loam, which drains well and does not retain lots of nutrients. The harsh conditions put the grape vines in stress, causing them to produce more concentrated clusters of fruit with very intense flavors. To Kalon produces some of the most sought after cabs in Napa Valley.
Although modern technology uses stainless steel fermentors, Robert Mondavi Winery uses small amounts of oak fermentors for some reserve wines. Tim Mondavi, winegrower and managing director at the vineyard, found that "[o]ak fermentation imparts complexity, richness of texture, intensity, and depth of color, which is ideal for our reserve and district red wines, and particularly enhances the fruit from our To Kalon Vineyard.”*
They also only use French oak barrels (remember my thoughts when I pitted French oak against American oak?). They paint all the barrels with wine so that if there's any dripping, it won't cause any stains.
We enjoyed a lovely tasting of 3 different wines. Our tour guide was fantastic. He's worked at the vineyard for decades, and really knows his stuff. We tried asking him all sorts of questions and he seemed to know everything! We tried a 2008 Napa Valley Fume Blanc ($20/bottle), a 2008 Napa Valley Pinot Noir Reserve ($60/bottle), and a 2006 Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon ($45/bottle). Nice wines, but I couldn't help thinking about the Opus One earlier, which (for obvious reasons), was way better.
Over all, if you've never visited a vineyard and want to learn about the basics of winemaking, this tour is interesting and fun. Plus, the property is really pretty.
Other posts from the Napa Valley Series
Signature Dish Competition
Del Dotto Caves / Winery
Caldwell-Ewart, "Robert Mondavi Winery: Creating a Winery to Match a Vineyard" Practical Winery & Vineyard, Jan/Feb 2001
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