CABBI Travel Blog

Opolo Vineyards in the spring

Savor Vineyard Views and Fine Wines at The Inn at Opolo

I arrived at Opolo Vineyards during bud break in mid-April, just as the grape vines were waking up from their winter slumber. The bud breaks are the first glimpse of what will develop into clusters of wine grapes. “In a couple of weeks, this will all be green,” says Steven Pecenkovic, gesturing at the vineyards stretching across the hills around us.

Sun shining through an oak tree standing amid vineyards in the spring
Opolo Vineyards in the spring
Bud break at Opolo Vineyards in the spring
Bud break at Opolo Vineyards in the spring

We are standing at the edge of a broad, grassy hilltop lawn admiring the panoramic views that extend far into the horizon. Steven is Opolo’s Director of Customer Service and Wine Sales, and he’s graciously providing me with a tour of the vineyards on his day off. 

From our perch, he points out the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Vineyard House that Opolo uses to host private wine dinners and cocktail parties. Secluded behind the trees is the intimate three-suite inn where I’m staying overnight. Directly below us is the bustling tasting room with its cavernous barrel room and terraced patio. The event lawn where we’re standing is home to the annual harvest festival dinner and grape stomp and is an idyllic place for weddings with its stunning views and sunsets over the vineyards. 

Views of vineyards and an large oak from a grassy hilltop lawn.
Views from the hilltop lawn at Opolo Vineyards
Views of vineyards and rolling hills from a grassy lawn.
Views from the hilltop lawn at Opolo Vineyards
Vineyards in the spring with tall grasses
Opolo Vineyards with the Vineyard House in the background
Living room with windows overlooking the vineyards.
Interior of the Vineyard House at Opolo Vineyards

Opolo Vineyards spans 270 acres of rolling hills in the Willow Creek District of western Paso Robles. They grow phenomenal Rhône and Bordeaux varietals across terraced limestone-rich slopes, where the vines bask in warm afternoon sun tempered by cool, coastal breezes. 

Friends Rick Quinn and David Nichols established their family winery in 1999. The two had been neighbors and home winemakers in Camarillo, buying grapes from Perata Vineyard in Paso Robles. But one year, a crop shortfall left them with no Merlot grapes to blend with their Cabernet Sauvignon. With a background in real estate, Rick’s remedy was to acquire his own property to ensure a steady supply of grapes. “For 1,000 pounds of fruit, I could have just purchased a half-acre, but I ended up buying 70 acres,” said Rick. The property would eventually become the main estate, and their winery, named Opolo in honor of Rick’s Serbian heritage, has continued to grow and evolve over the years. 

In 2001, they opened a modest tasting room with 12-foot-long redwood boards stretched atop wine barrels. A couple of years later, they established a wine club and began hosting annual harvest festivals to not only share their wine but create lasting memories for guests. 

Outdoor seating under the pavilion at the tasting room for Opolo Vineyards
Outdoor seating at the tasting room for Opolo Vineyards
Fountain outside the tasting room at Opolo Vineyards
Fountain outside the tasting room at Opolo Vineyards

After a dozen years, Opolo entered a new era with Rick and David raising the bar for the quality and craftsmanship of their wines while prioritizing sustainability. They also expanded their onsite hospitality offerings by establishing a craft distillery and opening The Inn at Opolo. The Willow Creek Distillery crafts spirits from grapes and other fruits grown onsite, including their pear brandy which cleverly features whole pears inside the bottles. The inn, which opened in 2015, offers a secluded hideaway amid the vineyards and takes Opolo’s hospitality to a whole new level.

This year, Opolo Vineyards celebrates its 25th anniversary. The original 70 acres that Rick purchased in the mid-1990s have since expanded to 270 acres plus an additional 120 acres on the east side of Paso Robles, where they grow warmer climate varietals like Sangiovese and Barbera. The expanded tasting room now offers a large indoor bar, outdoor seating under a covered pavilion, and more tables on a sunny patio built at the edge of Merlot and Zinfandel vines. The tasting room also features a fabulous lunch menu of fresh salads, wood-fired pizzas, and charcuterie boards.

Walnut trees in the spring
Walnut trees at The Inn at Opolo
Close up of pear blossoms
Pear blossoms at Opolo Vineyards

On our way back down from the hilltop lawn, Steven takes me through a beautiful grove of French walnut trees with Spanish moss drifting in the breeze. He tells me some of the walnuts are used to craft the liqueurs for the distillery. The rest, he says, are left for the squirrels. Stopping off at the espaliered pears, which are just beginning to blossom, Steven shows me the distillery’s secret to getting those whole pears inside the bottles of their pear brandy.

Opolo Vineyards is best known for its Mountain Zinfandel, but at the tasting room, I fall in love with the 2021 Reserve Pinot Noir (which was awarded 90 points by Wine Enthusiast) and the 2021 Montagna Mare, which is a rich, expressive blend of Sangiovese and Barbera. As the tasting room manager pours more and more amazing wines I’m trying to figure out how many bottles I can carry home on the plane. 

Interior of the tasting room
The tasting room at Opolo Vineyards
A tasting glass of red wine with a bottle of Opolo's Fusion
Wine tasting at the bar at Opolo Vineyards

As the tasting room visitors begin dispersing for the evening, a peacefulness settles over the vineyards. I had planned to drive into downtown Paso Robles for dinner, but spending the full evening at Opolo holds far more appeal. Steven graciously packs up a wood-fired pizza and a fresh beet salad, which I carry back to the inn.

Nestled into a hillside just a short walk from the tasting room, The Inn at Opolo houses three luxurious suites, each with its own private entrance. The suites feature gas fireplaces, king beds draped with feather duvets, buttery smooth linens, plush robes and slippers, glass-enclosed showers, travertine tile, and jetted soaking tubs for two. French doors from each of the suites open to a sunny, wrap-around veranda with comfortable lounge chairs and bucolic views. 

Exterior of The Inn at Opolo showing the wraparound veranda, bocce ball court, and terraced gardens.
Exterior of The Inn at Opolo
King bed, French doors, fireplace, and bistro table inside the Rhapsody Suite
The Rhapsody Suite at The Inn at Opolo
Travertine tile bath of the Rhapsody Suite.
Bathroom of the Rhapsody Suite at The Inn at Opolo

There’s a bocce ball court in the gardens below the veranda. Two EV chargers tucked behind the inn are free for guests to charge their vehicles. Guests also have 24-hour access to a well-equipped kitchen with an espresso machine, microwave, a refrigerator stocked with complimentary still and sparkling waters, and more.

While enjoying dinner on the veranda, I watch Spanish moss in the oak trees sway in the breeze and Magpies flit among the branches. As the sun drops, a chorus of frogs begins to sing, and a blaze of stars appears overhead. I go back inside to grab a sweater, pour a glass of wine, and nibble off the appetizer platter included with the room. 

Veranda at The Inn at Opolo
Veranda at The Inn at Opolo
Appetizer board at The Inn at Opolo
Appetizer board at The Inn at Opolo

The hospitality at The Inn at Opolo is incredibly generous. Each evening of their stay, guests are treated to a bottle of wine and a platter of appetizers that could easily serve as dinner. The night of my stay, the appetizer spread included seared ahi tuna with mixed greens plus a selection of cheeses, cured meats, olives, pickled vegetables, grapes, cranberries, and walnuts. Had I known ahead of time, I may have skipped the pizza. 

Guests are also treated to a made-to-order gourmet breakfast served each morning. Menu selections include benedicts, quiches, omelets, pancakes, and more. Given all the leftovers I had from dinner and the appetizers, I opted for a lighter breakfast of steel-cut oats with fruit. It was the perfect fuel for a morning hike through the vineyards. 

I set off after breakfast through the walnut grove, past the Vineyard House, and up through the vines to explore more of this beautiful Paso Robles countryside.

Trail sign at The Inn at Opolo
Trail sign at The Inn at Opolo