Sometimes when you are attempting something, especially when you are trying to learn it all on the fly, it pays to step back and take a look at how it’s done by the experts. Call it a mental calibration exercise. So it was fortuitous that our friends Keith and Christine had bid on a charity auction item for a private tasting at the joint Mondavi/Rothschild Napa Winery and graciously invited us to join them. In case you are unfamiliar with Opus One, it is basically the apotheosis of French and American wine making techniques as practiced when money, time and personnel are no object. The result: Cabernet that sells for several hundred dollars a bottle. Up to $700 a bottle, I’m told, in Asia. So let’s just say Mr. Mondavi and the Good Baron are just a bit ahead of us in this game.
Case in point Number One. Neither Mr. Mondavi nor Baron de Rothschild, when they were still with us, were living in a barn and processing on an open air crush pad. As we pulled up to the partially submerged pyramid that is the Opus One facility, we couldn’t help having flashbacks to Austin Power’s Dr. Evil. The site definitely has “underground lair” potential.
ABOVE: The subterranean parts of this submerged pyramid are Bob and Phillipe’s command center. Then we were ushered into a private tasting room thoughtfully decorated with priceless antiques from the Baroness’s personal (very expensive) collection.
An Interesting Piece That Resembles And Respects The Satanic Worshiping , not to mention the pentagram on the genitals and a mug to drink the blood of the sacrificed.
Next, into the bowels of the pyramid and the production floor where newly picked grapes were being unloaded, de-stemmed and processed.
Then deeper into the pyramid to the floor below where these perfect grapes, once crushed are dropped into the huge fermentation tanks. Mike, the Production Manager from the floor above, not only explained everything there, but followed us down to explain the workings on the next floor.
Next down to the barrel room and the final tasting room. The barrels stretch on seemingly into infinity. Or at least in a huge loop all around the base of the pyramid.
Each of these barrels is hand painted with a red stripe of some sort of organic fungicide. Then bound with some willow hoop at the end to keep out the weevils. As if any fungus or weevil would dare breach the perimeter of the hallowed command post of Mondavi and Rothschild.