OPOLO IN WINE COUNTRY THIS WEEK
“Keeping up with the Joneses” has never been an issue for California neighbors Rick Quinn and David Nichols. In 1997, the two discovered a shared passion for wines and winemaking which led to the creation of Opolo Vineyards, a winery known for its outstanding, consumer friendly wines and excellent customer service.
Comprised of 70 hilly acres on the west side of Paso Robles, and over 200 acres in the gently sloping east side Paso hills, Opolo Vineyards has been producing fruit since the late 1990s. The tasting room opened in 2001. Originally, Quinn and Nichols had no plans to start their own winery, although according to Nichols, “We both love to make wine, and have made our own ‘backyard’ wine for some time.” Instead, the duo intended to simply grow grapes to sell both to Napa and in the local area. Twenty years later, Opolo Vineyards produces nearly 30,000 cases a year and counts over 30 wines made from seventeen different varietals. Although Quinn jokingly calls it a “hobby that got out of control,” Opolo has become a staple in the Paso Robles wine industry and a favorite for visitors and locals alike.
Quinn and Nichol’s spirit of partnership continues in the winemaking process at Opolo as well. In addition to Quinn and Nichols, the staff, including the Vineyard Manager, the Lab Manager, the Cellar Master, and the Head Viticulturist all work together to create wines that appeal to a variety of palates, although Quinn and Nichols have the final vote. With this truly communal approach, all aspects of winemaking are kept in mind while creating the final product. What emerges from this process are Opolo’s signature wines, which Quinn describes as “big, bold wines, approachable and consumer friendly.” Delectable wines like the award winning Pinot Noir, Grenache and Opolo’s celebrated Mountain Zinfandel are incontrovertible proof that working together definitely works.
Opolo’s vast wine selection features nearly every varietal grown in the Paso Robles area, including Sangiovese, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and Petite Sirah. They also produce several Rhone and Bordeaux style blends such as the Fusion a Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Rhapsody, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. For those with a sweet tooth, Opolo provides two dessert style wines, a Late Harvest Zinfandel and the Fleur de Paso, a dessert style Viognier. Wine club members are also able to enjoy fantastic, limited production wines such as Reserve Zinfandel and Mourvedre.
Customer service and a welcoming tasting room atmosphere are integral to the Opolo way of life. On any given day, visitors to the tasting room are greeted by the staff and treated to a fun, personalized wine experience. The atmosphere at the tasting room is warm, friendly and attentive. The staff at Opolo strives to take the “snobbiness” out of wine tasting, and to remove intimidation associated with the process. Instead, they focus on individual, one-on-one attention, while highlighting the spectacular wines.
On the weekends, tasters enjoy Opolo’s famous Yugoslavian sausage, Cevapcici, as well as freshly made gourmet pizzas paired with a choice of delicious Opolo wines.
One of Opolo’s most popular celebrations is the annual Harvest Festival. During the festival, the scenic hilltop comes alive with the sounds of Yugoslavian folk music and the smells of whole roasted lamb, chicken and pork. Daring visitors are also invited to participate in grape stomping or folk dancing lessons.
Rather than turning their “hobby” into a not-so-neighborly competition, Quinn and Nichols chose to forge a partnership that would result in a truly unique wine experience. Visitors to Opolo Vineyards leave with a sense of community, friendship, and of course, fantastic wine.
Experience Opolo Vineyards at 7110 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles. Open 10am-5pm daily. For details please visit www.opolo.com or call (805) 238-9593.