David Pearson, veteran of Robert Mondavi’s failed attempt to buy land in southern France, has been appointed the new chief executive of Opus One

The announcement, which came on Friday, marks a change in the evolution of Californian winery as an individual estate. When he takes up his position Pearson will become the first person wholly responsible for Opus One.

In May 2001 Pearson was in charge of Mondavi’s Vichon operation in Languedoc, southern France, when the company finally abandoned its cherished dream of buying its own land in the region, in the teeth of implacable hostility from local officials and a handful of producers.

‘There comes a time when you have to say it is not reasonable to continue,’ Pearson said at the time, adding that Robert Mondavi himself was ‘upset’ to be rejected.

Michael Silacci has also been appointed winemaker and will take full responsibility for all aspects of vineyard management and wine. Tim Mondavi will continue in an advisory capacity having recently returned from a six month sabbatical.

Opus One, the legendary alliance of the Mondavi family and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, was established in 1979 and single bottles of the wine rarely fetch less than $70. Other Mondavi patnerships include over nine other wineries both New and Old World.

Written by Lalage Snow