Paul O’Brien Winery in Roseburg is the result of two decades of friendship and work between winemakers Dyson Paul DeMara and Scott O’Brien Kelley. The two met while working at Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley. Over the years they have immersed themselves in winemaking both in the U.S. and abroad, going to the top wine regions to learn their secrets. Today, they will tell you that their work is a blend of old world traditions and new world techniques. In 2013, DeMara and Kelley partnered to found their winery in the historic Hansen Chevrolet building in downtown Roseburg.
The News-Review spoke with Kelley recently about the winery, how it has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.
Question: How has COVID-19 and the response/restrictions to it affected your business?
Answer: The biggest impact has been that our tasting room has been closed for tastings. Luckily we have been able to continue to sell wine via online and curbside pickup. However, tasting rooms really do best when our staff is able to offer tastes to the customers and educate about the wines. Our wholesale business has been affected by the closure of restaurants across the country.
Q: Has it affected production at all?
A: Production has not been affected, we are a small crew and able to easily implement the guidelines in the governor’s executive order.
Q: What are the changes you will be making in order to reopen the tasting room?
A: Paul O’Brien Winery is pretty lucky as we have the largest tasting room in the Umpqua Valley. This will really allow us to properly social distance and keep our guests and staff safe. All tasting room staff will be wearing masks, our occupancy will be limited by our ability to properly social distance, customer groups of 10 or less will be allowed to congregate, all surfaces, glasses etc. will be sanitized between groups. We are encouraging groups of five or more to schedule an appointment so we can more easily accommodate.
Q: What’s unique about the Umpqua Valley in terms of its wineries/wine production?
A: The Umpqua Valley has some of the most powerful nature of any wine-growing region I have ever seen. With over 140 soil types and probably twice as many micro climates we are able to grow a diverse selection of varieties. Our topography is like facets of a diamond with different aspects on every hillside providing a canvas to create unique styles and classic interpretations of a wide array of wine varieties.
Q: What’s unique about Paul O’Brien Winery?
A: The partnership between Dyson and I culminates with over 60 years of worldwide wine-making experience. Our ability to take the best of the old world traditions and apply them to new world wine-making creates wines of distinction that really prove what the Umpqua Valley has to offer.
Q: How would you describe Paul O’Brien Winery, in one word, to someone who has never been there?
Q: What’s the best part about your job?
A: Pioneering an up and coming wine region like the Umpqua Valley is probably the most exciting thing.
Q: You’re sending a bottle of wine to a good friend who is celebrating some occasion, say a 50th birthday. What Paul O’Brien wine do you send them and why?
A: 2014 La Dame, A blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Malbec, this is an incredible wine, great acidity and tannins that will allow it to age beautifully. It represents one of the many secrets of the Umpqua Valley.