His service to the wine trade transcends all categories. He was a brand owner, distributor and an importer, whose work helped increase worldwide wine consumption.
Opici, known in the industry as Mr.O, was also the winner of Wine Enthusiast’s 2014 American Wine Legend Award.
Perhaps the only thing this member of “The Greatest Generation” was more passionate about than wine was his family.
“I think there’s only 4% [of family businesses] that stay in business more than four generations like we are,” he once said.
Opici, who wore flat caps, thought of himself “as a poor boy that made good.” Well into his nineties, he regularly visited customers and went into the office nearly every day, according to family members.
In a 2009 September interview with with Gary Vaynerchuk on Wine Library TV, Opici recalled how his parents broke into the wine industry. In 1913, his father, Joseph, an Italian immigrant fluent in French, and his mother, Esther, helped expand a wholesale wine business led by Esther’s sister-in-law in Paterson, New Jersey. Eventually his father moved to California to open the family’s first winery.
In 1942, Hubert entered the U.S. Army, but after serving, he rejoined the family’s wine business.
It was under his leadership that the Opici Wine Group grew tremendously. The company represented Mondavi, Beringer Vineyards and Ste. Michelle for decades before expanding to include other big brands like Caymus, Ornellaia, Cesari and Silver Oak.
“My father’s first goal is always to make his customers happy,” Linda Opici, his daughter, recalls. “He would do anything, morning, noon, and night.”
Known to his family as “Papa,” Hubert is survived by his daughter Linda Opici; his grandchildren, Dina Opici and Don Opici; and four great grandchildren, Julia, James, Luca and Logan.
A wake will be held Thursday at Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home in Jupiter, FL from 4-7 pm. A private funeral service will take place on Friday. Instead of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the WSWA Educational Foundation.