Yakima Valley boasts some of the best grape growing conditions in the Pacific Northwest. However, this is not the only crop that dominates the abundant agricultural landscape. Hops, peach, and cherry orchards (among other crops) dot the valley and rolling hills nestled in between the vineyards. After speaking with locals, there is a strong sense of pride in this majestic valley. With nearly fifteen years of sourcing and making wines from this area, the Owen Roe team is ecstatic to finally call it home.
Owen Roe founder and winemaker, David O’Reilly, has been championing winemaking in the Yakima Valley since 1999 from their Oregon winery. However, in 2011 with the purchase of Union Gap Vineyard he and co-owners, Ben and Julie Wolff, began to lay the foundations for Owen Roe in Washington. On April 11th, 2013 they broke ground on the winery, flanked by the vineyard and cherry orchards on either side. With distant views of Mount Adams everyone feels right at home on the sunny slopes of Union Gap.
Having a clear vision, the O’Reillys’ and Wolffs’, along with the cellar staff, worked with Mountain States Construction Company to build a true winemaker’s winery. Absent of all the frivolity and grandiose one would expect from a “winemaker’s winery”, instead sits a modest red barn-like building made completely out of metal. However unassuming the winery may seem from Gangl Road it is quite different underneath the lofty Kingspan roof. With glass garage doors on all four sides of the winery, the cellar is bathed in natural light and 360° views of the vineyard, sprawling valley and Mt. Adams.
Just as important as it is to be in this wonderful place, it was equally important to work with local companies, in order to achieve the vision of a comfortable and energy efficient winery. The winery claims a natural cooling fan, which turns on automatically and pulls cool night air in from outside and exhausts out to keep the winery cool, without the use of air conditioning. Tolman Electric of Mabton, WA has retrofitted the winery with all LED lights on automatic sensors. “This winery will run at half the cost of other wineries. Everything is top notch, but the feel is still rustic and comfortable,” says Jason Tolman of Tolman Electric.
2014 will mark the first complete harvest in the new winery. Associate Winemaker, Theresal Imel, along with cellar staff have been enjoying working in the new space over the last few months.