Paso Robles AVA
Truly enjoyable, approachable award-winning Paso Robles wines
A chance meeting of two men out for a walk almost twenty years ago has led to the successful winery operation that is known as Opolo Vineyards.
The meeting of the two, Rick Quinn, 63, and Dave Nichols, 54, took place in the City of Camarillo, CA. Quinn had just bought some 70 acres of plantable land near the City of Paso Robles on the Pacific Coast, and had been told the land was nearly perfect for planting grapes.
Nichols was fascinated with Quinn’s account of the transaction and suddenly found that he was also interested in the project. The two became fast friends and a partnership developed that ultimately became Opolo Vineyards.
“Our basic intent was to become farmers and sell all the grapes we produced to the local wineries that were beginning to crop up along the Central Coast,” informed Nichols during a recent interview. “Rick was also an amateur home winemaker so I started making some wines myself. Our wines were quite successful among our friends and family, so we expanded our production a bit.”
The business of growing grapes flourished for several years, but soon an abundance of fruit in the Central Coast Region forced a decision for the partners to open a winery. An old tractor shed was converted into a winery. Tanks and barrels were added to accommodate Opolo Vineyards’ first releases. By 2001, the first thousand cases of the new entity were offered to the public, and were sold out in less than three months.
The wine received rave reviews and critical acclaim and the new winery was on its way.
For the record, the name Opolo (pronounced Op-o-lo) is a Yugoslavian wine name that Rick Quinn admired and borrowed for the new winery name. Quinn is also half Yugoslavian and half Irish.
The ensuing years have been very good to Opolo Vineyards. Annual case production has risen to approximately 55,000 cases and will rise even more in the near future. “We expect to produce around 70,000 cases by 2015,” advised Dave Nichols. “We plan to plant additional vineyards to meet those expectations. Our vineyards on the western side of Paso Robles are already at full production and we cannot meet the present demand.”
A new facility was completed in 2003 adjacent to the original winery building. Five years later, a bed and breakfast was opened that allowed Opolo Vineyards’ customers to experience the wine industry first hand. The place has three bedrooms and some breathtaking views to offer.
The overriding facet of the operation is the successful long-term partnership between Quinn and Nichols. The pair feels that they complement each other in a number of ways. “Rick is the real visionary,” Nichols continued. “He sets the goals for everyone to achieve. On the other hand, I am a nuts and bolts person who sees that everything runs smoothly. As far as the partnership is concerned, that sort of interaction has worked out quite well for us.”
The fact that Opolo Vineyards is a partnership rather than a corporation makes it somewhat of a rarity in the California wine industry. It is also a marvelous example of a hobby for two men that turned into a successful business. Since its inception, Opolo Vineyards had garnered more than its share of excellent scores and quality medals in the highest competitions. Numerous industry periodicals have commented on the excellence of its wines and the consumer following Opolo Vineyards has developed is also worth noting.
Nichols is also careful to point out that the local terrior on Opolo Vineyards’ 270 planted acres deserves plaudits for its role.
“We have the best of all worlds on our property. The coastal influence is marvelous and the calcareous soils (of a chalky or limestone type) allow for deep roots for our vines. When you add in the fact that the mean temperatures are ideal for what we are trying to accomplish, it all becomes a win-win situation.”
It seems that Dave Nichols is one of a significant minority of individuals whose life is apparently absolute.
“I still enjoy working in the tasting room on weekends,” he confessed. “It provides me a wonderful opportunity to interact with our friends and customers. What I learn from them goes right back into our next wine releases. We are always striving to improve our quality. I will still be saying the same thing in another twenty years if I am lucky.”
It is with great pride that Gold Medal Wine Club presents Opolo Vineyards to our Platinum Series members
Paso Robles Appellation
It is a simple fact that the Paso Robles Appellation of California’s Central Coast has soared in reputation as one of the finest growing areas within the entire state. For the past decade and a half, the fruit produced around the appealing town has become a must for many serious wineries, including many of the iconic Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine producers.
Almost 90% of the grapes used by Opolo Vineyards originate within the Paso Robles Appellation, with the remainder being sourced from the surrounding Central Coast Appellation.
Opolo Vineyards was one of the early growers that saw promise in the region. “We foresaw the rise in prominence of the Paso fruit when we first bought our land,” commented co-owner Dave Nichols. “We were told that the area was second to none in several aspects of grape growing. That early information has certainly proven to be true. We are about to plant another 25 acres on property we own that is contiguous to our present acreage, and are even considering another 50 acres for planting in the immediate future.”
Rick Quinn, Dave Nichols & Chris Rougeot
Part of Opolo Vineyards' continuing success is the fact that both of its co-owners, Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols, are winemakers. The pair started as home winemakers and parlayed their success into today's 55,000-case winery.
As Opolo Vineyards continued to grow and prosper, a new winemaker, Chris Rougeot, was brought in to help with the day-to-day winemaking chores. Rougeot is a graduate of Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo with a degree in microbiology. He was formerly associated with Four Vines Winery and EOS Estate Winery, both staples of the Paso Robles wine industry. He is listed as a co-winemaker for Opolo Vineyards but all decisions on final blends still rest in the hands of Quinn and Nichols.
Dave Nichols - Co-Owner & Winemaker
As part of the enduring partnership that has owned Opolo Vineyards since its inception, Dave Nichols is a no-nonsense individual that seem perfectly suited for his role in the winery.
The Southern California native (San Fernando Valley) originally set out to be an electrical engineer with a degree through Cal State Northridge. He later matriculated to Pepperdine University where he earned a Master's in Business Administration.
He is very candid when it comes to his wine experience when he first entered the business. "I was completely fascinated with the idea of the wine industry but really knew nothing about it. I trusted my partner Rick Quinn with knowing what we had to do to succeed. When I planted my first grapes I knew I was taking a big chance, but the rewards involved seemed to outweigh the chances I was taking.”
Nichols followed in Quinn's footsteps and began making his own homemade wine. After his efforts proved to be successful, he was all for the move to vintner when the opportunity arose.
"It is almost incredible that my taste and Rick's are the same about 95% of the time,” he declared. "When we do the final blends of each wine, we are in agreement on just about everything. We both enjoy fruit forward wines with soft tannins. We feel that these sort of wines appeal to the widest variety of consumers. As long as our wines show good fruit and are well balanced, we are both quite satisfied.”
Nichols is also aware of the changes in approach that have taken place in the Paso Robles growing area since Opolo Vineyards was founded. "When we started out, grape growing around Paso wasn't all that sophisticated. There was more emphasis on quantity than quality. About fifteen years ago, there was a major shift toward quality. That shift is the major reason that Paso Robles fruit is in such great demand.”
While Nichols credits the overall move toward quality for his winery's success, he is also careful to point out that the local terroir on Opolo Vineyards' 270 planted acres also deserves plaudits for its role.
"We have the best of all worlds on our property. The coastal influence is marvelous and the calcareous soils (of a chalky or limestone type) allow for deep roots for our vines. Most years, our westside vines are dry farmed - the climate is that benign. When you add in the fact that the mean temperatures are ideal for what we are trying to accomplish, it all becomes a win-win situation.”
It seems that Dave Nichols is one of a significant minority of individuals whose life is apparently absolute. He is completely comfortable with his partner of nearly twenty years and is totally relaxed in his role as winery owner.
"I still enjoy working in the tasting room on weekends,” he confessed. "It provides me a wonderful opportunity to interact with our friends and customers. It gives me a good feel and I am able to get good feedback from a wide variety of individuals. What I learn from them goes right back into our next wine releases. We are always striving to improve our quality. I will still be saying the same thing in another twenty years if I am lucky.”