Neighbors to Winemakers: Opolo Vineyards and the Pursuit of Excellence in Paso Robles

By Published On: July 24, 2023

Courtesy: Opolo Vineyards

The story of the connection between Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols that ultimately led to the establishment of Opolo Vineyards is a tale rooted in friendship, entrepreneurship, and a shared passion for wine.  As neighbors in Ventura County, they formed a bond that extended beyond the boundaries of their homes. Rick and Dave discovered a mutual love for wine that would sow the seeds of a remarkable journey.

They recognized an opportunity in Paso Robles–an emerging wine region with immense potential at the time. Undeterred by the challenges that lay ahead, they independently planted their own vineyards, taking a leap of faith into the world of winemaking, but it was their collective vision that would ultimately unite their paths and give rise to Opolo. They set their sites on crafting world class Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons, among a few other varieties from the grapes grown on their estate vineyards. The crown jewel of their winemaking empire was the estate nestled amidst the mountains of the Willow Creek District, where the unique terroir would shape the character of the wines.

Opolo’s journey from its humble beginnings in a tractor barn to its present day production and hospitality spaces has been a remarkable evolution, marked by a commitment to quality, a growing reputation, and a dedication to creating unforgettable experiences for wine enthusiasts.

Courtesy: Opolo Vineyards

The estate vineyards were strategically established in Paso Robles, a region known for its 11 distinct AVAs, each offering unique expressions within the larger wine community. By acquiring vineyard sites in both the east and west sides of Paso Robles, Opolo has gained a significant advantage in terms of flavor diversity and quality.  The eastside vineyards, located in the Estrella District, experience warmer temperatures, which contributes to the development of rounder, riper, and softer fruit profiles.  On the westside, Opolo’s vineyards in the Willow Creek District, closer to the coastal influences lend itself to the development of firmer structure, darker color, and greater concentration. These wines exhibit distinct characteristics that are highly sought after by wine enthusiasts who appreciate complexity and depth.

Opolo’s Cabernet Sauvignon lineup encompasses a range of wines, each with its own distinct flavor profile and targeted characteristics. The Summit Creek Cabernet Sauvignon stands out as the most approachable option, both in terms of style and price. It delivers a fruit-forward and varietally correct experience, with a juicy nature that appeals to a broad range of palates while offering excellent value. The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon takes the experience to a higher level by introducing added depth and structure elevating the drinking experience.

Their Albarino is sourced from Davenport Vineyard, nestled in the coastal Edna Valley AVA of southern San Luis Obispo County. This region has emerged as a hub for California Albarino, a grape variety of Iberian origin known for its ability to thrive in cool, marine-influenced growing conditions. 

As groundwater becomes scarcer and the predictability of the wet season becomes more challenging across the region, Opolo recognizes that there is an ongoing opportunity for sustainability efforts. By adhering to the SIP certification requirements and continually seeking innovative approaches, they set an example for a broader industry. Their commitment to water conservation serves as an inspiration for other wineries to adopt similar practices, ensuring the long term viability of viticulture while minimizing the strain of valuable water resources.

For those visiting Paso Robles for the first time, the Inn at Opolo offers a range of delightful experiences. The tasting room, situated within the vineyard, presents a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Inside, guests can savor the flavors of Opolo wines at the tasting bar, while outside the expansive patio provides the perfect space to indulge in tasting flights and enjoying bites.  Additionally, the Willow Creek Distillery tasting room is attached, allowing visitors the opportunity to sample spirits and further enhance their culinary journey.

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story.  As always, the top priority is to provide the readers with informative reporting.

Wine Recommendations

Courtesy: Opolo Vineyards

2021 Syrah- the air carries a heady fragrance of ripe blackberries, setting the stage for the wine to envelop the senses with the grace of coarse white pepper and the weight of freshly laid asphalt. Such a unique impression with a hint of tobacco that captivates the senses drawing you deeper into the wine’s gritty depths. 

2021 Cabernet Sauvignon- blackberry, black cherry and a delightful essence of indulgent chocolate. Caresses the palate with its warm embrace and exudes a remarkable full-bodied character that lingers graciously. 

2021 Maestro- an alluring blend of 66% Syrah, 22% Grenache and 12% Counoise. Toasted oak embraces the senses while on the palate prominent notes of blueberry, black cherry and subtle hints of tea. A velvety roundness wrapped in a gentle embrace with the judicious use of oak imparts a refined structure and adds supple mouthfeel.

2021 Mountain Zinfandel- the wine exudes an alluring warmth enveloping with its rich and inviting jammy aromas. Raspberries and black cherries intermingle as you venture further into its depths, a subtle herbaceous note takes hold. The essences of peppery spice emerges gracefully, adding a zesty kick to the finish.

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : .