Owen Roe Winery: David O’ Reilly Took His Dream Solo



By Kori ~ December 28th, 2011.

After founding Sineann with Peter Rosback in 1994, winemaker David O’Reilly took his dream solo when he started Owen Roe Winery, named for Irish patriot Owen Roe O’Neil, in 1999. Located in St. Paul, Oregon, Owen Roe produces wines from both Oregon and Washington fruit. O’Reilly sources his fruit from small vineyard sites in Oregon and Washington in an effort to showcase the best expression of each variety. Annual production for the Owen Roe wines is 30,000 cases. The Corvidae line, marketed predominantly in the Seattle area, adds another 10,000-20,000 cases to the total. And the Sharecropper’s line shares profits with the growers whose fruit is used.

Owen Roe works primarily with smaller vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Yakima Valley in Washington State. Both of these areas have cooler climates that yield fruit with low pH and excellent acidity. All of the grapes used by Owen Roe are hand harvested, handled with minimal processing, small-lot fermented, and aged in French Oak barrels.

We had the pleasure to visit Owen Roe during a recent visit to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I highly encourage you to do the same the next time you are in the area; but plan ahead, they are open by appointment only. We tasted nine wines, and our favorite was the 2009 Ex Umbris Syrah. It is outstanding. As you will see from my notes and ratings below, Owen Roe produces a number of wines worth checking out if you see them on the shelf at your local wine shop or on a restaurant wine list.

2009 Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah (Columbia Valley): Deep, dark purple. Nice nose with dark black licorice and black fruit aromas. Very vibrant fruit, blackberry, black cherry, licorice, and herbal notes come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity, and medium to high, silky tannins. Well-balanced with good mouthfeel and a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $22 to $33

2010 Owen Roe Sinister Hand Red Wine (Columbia Valley): 71% Grenache, 24% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre. Deep purple. Aromatic with strawberry, red cherry, game, and spice on the nose. Black cherry, game, spice, and a hint of coffee come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $20 to $30

2009 Owen Roe Yakima Valley Red Wine (Yakima Valley, Washington): 59% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, purplish red. Nice nose with blackberry, black cherry, thick jam, and liqueur aromas. Black cherry, blackberry, licorice, spice, and a hint of earth come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $42; Available elsewhere, $35 to $50

2008 Owen Roe Rosa Mystica Cabernet Franc (Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, garnet red. Beautiful nose with black fruit, earth, herbal, and vegetal aromas. Flavors of black cherry, black plum, bell pepper, white pepper, and earth. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, and dry yet smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $42; Available elsewhere, $33 to $47

2008 Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah (Columbia Valley): Deep, dark purple. Gorgeous nose with blackberry, black plum, and spice rack aromas. Deep, rich black fruit, espresso bean, and mocha come through on the palate Full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $22 to $29

2010 Owen Roe Abbot’s Table Red Wine (Columbia Valley): 48% Sangiovese, 15% Blaufrankisch, 14% Zinfandel, 14% Malbec, 7% Syrah, and 2% Merlot. Deep purple. Nice nose with red and black fruit. Jammy with ripe fruit, blueberry, plum, and cherry on the palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish. An approachable table wine.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $23; Available elsewhere, $17 to $27

2010 Owen Roe Chardonnay (Columbia Valley): Light straw yellow. Nice nose with apple, pear, and a touch of vanilla aromas and flavors. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $21

2009 Owen Roe Slide Mountain Cabernet Franc (Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Gorgeous nose with meat, game, and blackberry aromas. Black cherry, game, and a touch of vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $72; Available elsewhere, $57 to $72

2009 Owen Roe Durant Vineyard Pinot Noir (Durant Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon): Medium rusty red. Aromas of cherry, berry, herbs, and a hint of earth on the nose; cherry, strawberry, herbs, and earth on the palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long, slightly rough, finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $42


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. kristinamartinsen | January 1st, 2012 at 4:36 am

    one of the best things about Owen Roe is the family David has created, every day that his team of extremely talented winemaking team is working, he provides them lunch, not just during harvest but year around, he has a chef working in Owen Roe, he also, allows any and all his employs to make wine under his bond. This is fantastic. Giving so many young winemakers a start, to gain some capital and be able to start there own dream, there are not enough good things that I can say about this winery. There enologist at the moment, is a former roommate of mine, and one of the most wirey clever ladies in the biz, stay tuned for her wine to come out in the next few years

  2. Kori | January 3rd, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Kristina,
    Thanks for sharing. What a great story! Cheers!

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