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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Opolo Vineyards - Paso Robles - Central Coast

4-Star Gold Medal winner with two Double Golds and more.

Many California wineries are family affairs, some are individually owned and a few are operated as partnerships. Such is the case with this month’s Platinum Series Selection, Opolo Vineyards of Paso Robles in the Central Coast. Opolo (Op-o-lo) Vineyards is the brainchild of Rick Quinn, 58, and David Nichols, 49. They met as neighbors in 1995 in the city of Camarillo one day when Nichols was out for a walk.

“I stopped and talked to Rick and he told me that he had just bought some 70 acres of plantable acreage in West Paso Robles that he intended to plant in grapes and sell to the local wineries,” recalled Nichols. At that time, Quinn also informed Nichols that he was making some homemade wines and needed the grapes for his efforts. Almost a year later, Nichols and Quinn had another meeting after Nichols began making some homemade wines. At the meeting, Nichols expressed interest in acquiring some property around Paso Robles where he could also plant some vines. Quinn, a licensed real estate broker, succeeded in finding two adjacent parcels and offered Nichols his choice. Quinn also told Nichols he was willing to buy the other parcel. A friendship was begun that eventually led to the formation of a partnership and ultimately Opolo Vineyards. Vines were planted and the pair entered the wine business as growers. When the wine explosion hit the Central Coast a couple of years later and it became apparent to Quinn and Nichols that there would be an abundance of grapes available, the two decided to open a winery themselves. Rick Quinn (who is half Irish and half Yugoslavian) borrowed a Yugoslavian wine name he enjoyed and Opolo Vineyards was created in 1999. An old tractor shed was converted into a winery and tanks and barrels were added to make the entity’s first wines. Opolo’s initial release of 1,000 cases came in 2001, and was sold out in less than three months. The wine received rave reviews and critical acclaim and the new winery was on its way.

“We tried to follow a simple formula for success,” Nichols continued. “First, we concentrated on making a wine that people really liked and we also tried to make the experience fun by getting as many people as possible involved. We also made a conscientious effort to promote a great deal of community involvement with our winery.” An addition to the winery in 2003 provided Opolo the ability to expand its operation to meet the need of its customers. Opolo has grown at an extremely healthy rate and will produce around 40,000 cases this year, a level that Nichols thinks is all that Opolo Vineyards and its two partners can handle.

“Everyone in the wine business knows there’s a no man’s land between 30,000 and 100,000 cases,” he continued. “When you get any bigger than we are, some infrastructure must be put into place and that becomes extremely expensive. Rick and I started this business as a hobby and, for now, that hobby has almost gotten out of control for both of us. We have both decided to stay at our present production level and see what the future brings.” A number of other California wineries would like to have just those sorts of problems. Nichols admitted that a committee of six gets together to select the final blends, but added that he and Quinn have the final word as to what goes into the bottle. Opolo Vineyards makes around thirty different wines, but produces at least 1,000 cases of each in an attempt to satisfy its expansive customer base. Opolo also opened up a marvelous B&B at the winery earlier this year for its customers to enjoy the vineyard and winery experience firsthand. The place has three bedrooms and some breathtaking views to offer. Opolo Vineyards seems to be in a near-perfect position to control its own destiny. The 270 acres that comprise its vineyards are considered first rate and its wines are accompanied by continuing medals and high reviews.

The partnership that is Opolo is also healthy according to Nichols. “We really do tend to compliment each other,” he finalized. “Rick is the real visionary and sets the goals for us to achieve. I am a nuts and bolts sort of person that sees that everything is done correctly. From a team standpoint, that sort of interaction tends to work out quite well.”

  1. Opolo
    2004 Proprietary Red Blend
    Paso Robles


    Best of Show - Doulbe Gold
    id: 210