The following article was written by Ryan Messer. Read previous articles by Messer here.
After 14 years producing wine in St. Paul, Oregon, Owen Roe has moved production of its Washington wines to Wapato in the Yakima Valley. A new production facility has been completed and is slated to open April 26th. Production of the winery's Willamette Valley wines will continue to take place in Oregon.
Owen Roe’s new facility lies in the heart of the winery’s Union Gap Vineyard. The recently completed 6,000 square foot building is, according to winemaker and co-owner David O'Reilly, a "winemaker's winery.” O’Reilly added, "We didn't want glamour and glitz. We needed efficiency. Everything is set up for quality.” A 4,000 square foot crushpad lies on the west side of the building to assist with the winery’s 24,000 case annual production.
O'Reilly said the decision to move to the Yakima Valley was driven in part by a desire to be closer to the vineyards and to provide him and his team with greater latitude during harvest. For example, with a production facility in Washington, they can now pick outer rows at a vineyard and leave the middle rows for an additional two or three days, something that was not logistically feasible when the fruit was being transported to Oregon.
Future plans for the site include an additional 4,000 square foot tank room, an underground cave, and a tasting room. The latter is scheduled to be built in the spring of 2015. O’Reilly says that the goal of the tasting room will be, "a 2-3 hour experience, not a 45 minute tasting.”
Owen Roe also has plans to expand its Union Gap Vineyard. The vineyard was first planted in 2004 and currently has approximately 13 acres under vine, most of it planted to Bordeaux varieties. This year will see the addition of 21 acres focused largely on Rhone varieties.
The winery’s new production facility will be open to the public on Saturday, April 26th during Wine Yakima Valley’s Spring Barrel Weekend. After that, the facility will be open by appointment.
Photo by François Dereeper, courtesy of Owen Roe.