Owen Roe: Embracing Two Worlds

Time to celebrate a Washington winery that over-delivers at every price point. Owen Roe started releasing wines in 1999 with production based out of St. Paul, Oregon. Despite the Oregon location, Owen Roe has successfully embraced both Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Washington varietals simultaneously. Many wineries in the northwest truck some grapes from their neighboring state to diversify and spruce up the offerings, but very few have the expertise or access to quality fruit to pull off the crafting of excellent wines from these two distinct growing regions. David O’Reilly is among the few.

Courtesy of Owen Roe
Courtesy of Owen Roe

Take note. Owen Roe recently opened a new winery and tasting room near Union Gap, WA, and this is in addition to the St. Paul, Oregon winery and Newberg, Oregon tasting room. The Washington expansion allows for increased production and presence in Washington, while providing O’Reilly with more options with his Washington fruit come harvest season. Along with the new winery, Owen Roe has purchased multiple vineyards around Yakima Valley, planted a new estate vineyard on site near Union Gap, and has expanded its vineyard sources beyond these direct acquisitions. This expansion comes with years of earned success and acclaim, all with minimal to no advertising. The wines speak for themselves. All this new juice, under the care of O’Reilly and his small-batch, meticulously minded winemaking style, should have us all salivating.

To the wines. With 24,000 cases produced, Owen Roe provides attention inducing value at every price point. Beyond the Owen Roe top-tier label, David O’Reilly also produces wines under the Sharecroppers and Corvidae labels. These two second-tier labels provide wines of surprising quality and interest between $10-$21. O’Reilly is known for taking great care in every step of his winemaking process, and that begins with the vineyards he selects. Excellent vineyard sites, careful management, attention to detail in the winery, and a value product. I recommend you investigate this magical equation yourself. 

Wines of note*:

  • 2012 Sojourner Eola-Amity Pinot Noir ($42): Classic Eola-Amity, and well crafted. Volcanic soils show through in the minerality of the wine, but I love the darker blue-fruit characteristics (in comparison to Dundee). 2012 gave producers options–bombastic or balanced, chewy or graceful. This wine gives you the ripeness of 2012 while maintaining balanced alcohol and delicate pinot nuances. A memorable wine. Excellent.
  • 2012 DuBrul Cabernet Sauvignon ($72): This wine wowed my tasting partner and me. The nose is striking and forces the glass to your mouth. Medium-plus bodied, plush purple and red fruit characteristics, while maintaining glorious depth and balance. Oak, acid, and alcohol all play their part without overplaying their hand. The finish lingers. Stellar.
  • 2013 Sharecroppers Cabernet Sauvignon ($15): The nose immediately hits you with classic Cabernet blueberry and blackberry co-mingled with leather. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers a nice balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity. A great Washington Cabernet exemplar at a fair price. Delightful.
  • 2013 Abbot’s Table ($24): Owen Roe’s flagship wine, a red blend of 41% zinfandel, 34% sangiovese, 11% malbec, 9% blaufränkisch, and 5% merlot. Flagship wines better earn their title, and this bottle does just so. Medium-plus bodied with supple blueberry, the rich aromas of tea and earth, and notable (medium) tannins. A sure crowd pleaser. Excellent.

Under the direction of David O’Reilly, expect greatness from Owen Roe. *Here is a link to my wine rating system, newly released on Wagon Wine.

2013 Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon

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