Owen Roe


      If there is such a thing as the luck of the Irish, Owen Roe's David O'Reilly has it. But while his success in the wine business might include a sliver of luck, it has much more to do with David's drive and creativity.

      O'Reilly is equal parts dapper and mischievous. When it comes to Owen Roe, everything O'Reilly touches has to be the best. From broad-shouldered, gorgeous wines to hand-numbered bottles, O'Reilly has a keen eye for crafting and image.

      "Every thing we do is meticulous," said O'Reilly, 37, one of 12 children born in Belfast, Ireland. "What we do is totally uncompromised. It is a lifestyle that includes hard work, but the product is thoroughly rewarding."

      O'Reilly's Irish heritage permeates all aspects of Owen Roe. Even the winery name is that of a great Irish patriot, Owen Roe O'Neil.

      "I like to tell people that I got involved in the business to follow an Irishman's dreams," said O'Reilly with a wink. "Imagine making a living by drinking!"

      He jokes of course, because O'Reilly is deadly serious about winemaking and about sourcing the best grapes; it is that drive that's lead him to the iconic sites of Red Willow and DuBrul. 

      From Harsh Life to Lush Life

      The combination of his Irish heritage and obsession about being the best says a lot about the affable winemaker. His luck and his taste for the good life wasn't always granted.

      As a young child in Belfast, the O'Reilly family -- all 14 of them -- was of modest means. Life was harsh and often violent as the family witnessed a depressing catalogue of death and injury due to sectarian violence.

      Two of O'Reilly's uncles were murdered, a sister suffered a traumatic injury, and one never knew when and where a homemade bomb would explode. His family scraped up enough money to move to British Columbia, just before his teen years, and O'Reilly never looked back.

      "I'm sure the past did have some impact on why I want the best from what I produce," O'Reilly said, thoughtfully. "I'm not like Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes -- I choose not to look back and dwell on the past."

      On to Oregon

      Instead, O'Reilly looked to the future, majoring in philosophy at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA, where he met his future wife, Angelica. It was there that he discovered a love of land and soil. He worked at a small winery in Southern California performing all the tasks necessary to get the wine out the door.

      "If you want to study truth and reality, it's grounded in nature," O'Reilly said. "The wine business is drawn intrinsically to nature and soil. You don't get into this business to make a fortune -- you have to be drawn to it."

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